"The framers were unanimous that Congress, as the representatives of the people, should be in control of public funds—not the President or executive branch agencies. This strongly-held belief was rooted in the framers’ experiences with England, where the king had wide latitude over spending once the money had been raised." - History, Art, and Archives, U.S. House of Representatives
The power to decide how U.S. taxpayers' money should be spent lies with Congress, first through the House of Representatives, then the Senate.
Last week, Donald J. Trump and his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, threatened to withhold nearly $136 million in U.S. Justice Department grant money, which originates in taxpayer contributions to the U.S. Treasury, from cities and localities that refuse to comply with U.S. Code 8 § 1373. The code, part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, as well as the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, mandates that:
"Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal,
State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict,
any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration
and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual."
The first part of that statement is key: "Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law," which means that if a state or local law conflicts with Code 8 § 1373 then it, rather than the federal code, takes precedence.
Republicans make a great show of saying their goal is to wrest power from the federal government and return it to states so that locally elected representatives can make decisions in the best interest of their constituents, rather than the federal government. Until, that is, Republicans disagree with what states and cities decide, at which point they're all too happy to re-assert control.
And so it is here, where a Republican President and Attorney General, rather than trust the wisdom of local police chiefs in the nearly 600 so-called "Sanctuary Cities," who have determined that complying with U.S. Code 8 § 1373 will make their communities less -- not more -- safe are now attempting to deny taxpayer funds from being returned to these cities so they can enact what they feel are more effective public safety initiatives.
Presumably, local police chiefs want to keep their cities safe. In which case it would be in their interest to conduct raids and detain undocumented immigrants before they've been found guilty of a crime, right?
Actually, not. Because according to a study by University of California San Diego assistant professor Tom Wong, crime is in fact lower and economies stronger in sanctuary counties than in other similarly-sized counties -- both urban and rural. This finding is further supported by the majority of local law enforcement officials, who agree that blindly cooperating with ICE causes undocumented immigrants to hide farther in the shadows and makes identifying criminals that much harder.
Yet Donald Trump has continued to stand by his campaign promise to withhold federal taxpayer money to uncooperative cities, ignoring the fact that the "power of the purse," is determined by Congress, not him.
And where does the money he's threatening to withhold originate? That money comes from you. You worked for it. You earned it. You spent it. And some of it you paid back to the government in the form of taxes. You also elected Congresspeople who, in an ideal world, would act on your behalf to ensure tax money was spent to support policies with which you and a majority of your fellow neighbors agree.
TaxStrike100 does not believe our tax dollars should be used for ineffective raids on undocumented immigrants that do not keep us safe and have no impact on increasing the availability of American jobs for American workers or the wages those workers receive. There is simply NO EVIDENCE that ICE raids accomplish either of these goals.
As a result, we're the ones who -- on April 18th and beyond -- will be withholding money from the federal government, not the other way around. We'll do this by refusing to pay $100 dollars in federal tax payment for 100 days as an act of nonviolent civil disobedience and urging others to join us in this action.
The money to operate our government comes from the American taxpayer. And studies show that taxpayers in Democrat-leaning "Blue States," where many sanctuary cities are located, pay substantially more in taxes to the federal government than they receive in return, whereas so-called Republican-leaning "Red States" take more than they give to the federal government, about which they complain so bitterly.
If "Sanctuary City" residents meet Jeff Session's threat with a threat of their own: to withhold some portion of their federal taxes to the Trump administration, perhaps he and our current President will realize who has the ultimate power in this scenario: American taxpayers.