Updated: Trump Seeks to Strip Oakland of Up to $130 Million in Federal Funds

The president’s decision to punish sanctuary cities also could cost Berkeley $11.5 million annually, and Alameda, $2.5 million.


President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that seeks to punish sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate fully with federal immigration efforts. Trump’s order, if fully implemented, could cost the city of Oakland up to $130 million annually, city officials said. Berkeley and Alameda, which are also sanctuary cities, could lose $11.5 million and $2.5 million each year, respectively.

Oakland Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio said the city stands to lose $120 million to $130 million a year in federal funds. “It’s a huge chunk of change,” she said.

The president’s action would impact low-income residents in Oakland the hardest. The city stands to lose about $20 million in Health and Human Services grants, which pay for the city’s Head Start program for low-income children and other services for the needy, Cappio said. The city also could lose about $12.2 million a year in Housing and Urban Development funds that are used to pay for low-income and affordable housing and other programs.

Trump’s move also could undermine portions of his political agenda. The president has said that he wants to boost funding for transportation infrastructure and public safety. But Oakland stands to lose about $35 million in federal transportation funds, along with more than $9.3 million in Department of Justice and Homeland Security grants, Cappio said. “It’s going to have a major impact on the city’s economy,” she added, referring to the total potential loss of federal funds.

Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda officials have all repeatedly said that they have no plans to abandon their sanctuary city commitments—despite Trump’s threats. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf reiterated after Trump won the November election that the city will continue its long tradition of safeguarding undocumented people from federal persecution. And the Alameda City Council voted 4-0 last week to become a sanctuary city. Most sanctuary cities refuse to arrest undocumented people simply because of their immigration status.

According to the Washington Post, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said Trump’s executive action “included a directive to the Department of Homeland Security to examine ways to limit federal funding to sanctuary cities.”

At a council meeting on Jan. 17, Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach said the city could lose about $2.5 million annually in federal funds if Trump follows through on his commitment to target sanctuary cities. The city could also lose millions in federal grants that it has or plans to apply for, including $2 million for Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.

Berkeley city spokesperson Matthai Chakko said Wednesday that the city could lose a total of about $11.5 million in annual federal funding, according to an audit conducted in June 2015. Berkeley’s low-income residents will also be impacted the most. “Obviously, these are funds that affect people that are the most vulnerable,” he said.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin tweeted today: "We won't be intimidated by threats to cut funding to cities that believe in the fundamental notion that no person is illegal."

Federal funding is restricted, so Trump’s move will not have a significant impact on cities’ general fund budgets.

Update 3:20 p.m.: Mayor Schaaf releases following statement: “The Bay Area stands united against this White House’s morally bankrupt policies that would divide families, turn our nation’s back on refugees in need, and potentially thwart the efforts of nearly one million productive young people who are on a legal path to citizenship. Oaklanders rely on $130 million in federal funding for everything from early education programs like Head Start to getting officers out of their cars and onto our streets at a time when community policing is so desperately needed. We will not allow this president to play politics with our safety and security.” 

Published Jan. 25, 2017 at 12:22 p.m.

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