With states and cities across America struggling to stay afloat during the economic shutdown amid the spread of COVID-19, President Donald Trump seemed to suggest he would be open to offering assistance to states under at least one condition: States and cities drop “sanctuary city” policies.
Unlike the federal budget, which can run massive deficits, state and city budgets are generally required to remain balanced. With governments seeing a sudden and dramatic reduction in income and sales taxes, some governors have been pushing for assistance from the federal government.
Without additional revenue, many states and cities will be forced to cut funding to programs such as healthcare, education, police and fire.
But Trump has been reluctant to assist states, at least those run by Democrats.
“Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?” Trump tweeted on Monday.
On Tuesday, Trump said "We’re not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and give them the money that they lost. That’s unfair to other states.”
But when Trump said that if a state’s budget shortfall was due to coronavirus, he said that, “We’d want certain things also, including sanctuary city adjustments... And a lot of bad things are happening with sanctuary cities.
"If we’re going to do something for the states, I think we probably want something having to do with sanctuary cities," Trump added.
Some states and cities have policies that stipulate that law enforcement not participate in immigration enforcement efforts. The president has repeatedly denounced the lack of cooperation between some state and local governments with the federal government in regards to immigration enforcement.
Following Trump’s comments on Tuesday, the ACLU said, “We cannot allow the Trump administration to exploit a public health crisis to further their anti-immigrant agenda.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested last week that states should be allowed to go bankrupt, which prompted outrage among some governors.
“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt Show on April 23. “It saves some cities. And there’s no good reason for it not to be available. My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that.”