Bloomberg fights Feds on immigration

Ashley Milne-Tyte Jul 7, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: One big part of the terrorism fight back home has become about money. Who gets funding from the Feds. And who doesn’t. And it’s spilling over into other issues. The House has cut homeland security money for any city or state that doesn’t report an illegal immigrant’s status if, for example, they report a crime. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s promising a fight if Congress doesn’t back down. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: The mayor has long criticized what he says is insufficient federal funding for New York’s security. So it was to bound to make him angry that dollars might be cut because of the city’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” immigration policy. Doug Muzzio of New York’s Baruch College says Bloomberg is speaking up for a city with immigration in its DNA:

DOUG MUZZIO: He believes that the House approach is fundamentally flawed, impossible to execute, legally suspect and morally wrong. But, in addition to that, it won’t work.

Others agree the policy would backfire. Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute says the police rely on good witnesses and informants:

TAMAR JACOBY: And they rely on the good will of law-abiding citizens. If they start to get into the business of checking everybody’s ID and being a potential threat to people in minority communities, you’re gonna have a lot less cooperation.

She says politicians may think threatening cities like New York with less money will help enforce immigration laws. But she says the current laws are unenforceable. James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation disagrees. He says it’s standard practice for the Feds to yank funds from cities that won’t tow the line:

JAMES CARAFANO: Is it the best tool? No. It’s kind of heavy handed. I mean, is there a time that it’s appropriate? Yes. But I think it’s appropriate when the federal government’s asking for something reasonable.

And he says it is reasonable for cities like New York to drop policies that make it harder for the federal government to do its job.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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