The German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoffer, had a term for it. He called it cheap grace, the feel-goodism we bestow upon ourselves because we are pleased with ourselves. If you ever had any doubt that the sanctuary city movement was anything more that the political manifestation of cheap grace, let those doubts be dispelled.
A tunnel under New York’s Hudson River may be imperiled. In Los Angeles, millions of dollars could be at stake for port improvements. And other communities’ hopes for major transportation projects could be caught in the crossfire as President Donald Trump threatens to strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that defy his immigration policies.
Considering that Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have all declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, Trump’s reprisals could end up canceling or delaying major infrastructure projects in some of the nation’s most congested areas — even as the administration touts a $1 trillion proposal to rebuild the United States’ roads, railroads, bridges and airports.
Trump issued an executive order last month that declares a “policy” of blocking federal funds for cities, states and other jurisdictions that refuse to provide information and assistance to federal immigration authorities. That puts potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on the chopping block, and transportation advocates say the damage could extend far beyond Trump’s intended targets.
Already several cities have changed their “sanctuary status.” This week a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would have used state funding to make up for lost federal funding failed for lack of support. Miami-Dade officially voted to end its sanctuary status.
Suburban jurisdictions are beginning to complain that the action of nearby sanctuary cities will deprive them from need federal funds. If the administration holds firm on this and doesn’t overreach to the extent that it loses a court case then not only will the sanctuary city movement fail, it will be revealed for what it was all along: cheap grace.