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Big-city mayors are risking millions in federal funding to protect undocumented immigrants

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Big-city mayors are risking millions in federal funding to protect undocumented immigrants

WATCH | Nearly two dozen big cities across America are threatening to thwart president-elect Donald Trump's plan to deport or arrest two to three million undocumented immigrants.

Remaining 'sanctuary cities'

They're doing it by pledging to remain so-called "sanctuary cities" -- places where local law enforcement officials don't tell federal immigration authorities if they come across people living in their cities without proper documentation.

And they're risking a lot -- billions in federal funding, to be specific  -- to maintain their sanctuary status.

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These are the cities saying they'll risk losing funding to protect undocumented immigrants.

Donald Trump: We will end 'sanctuary cities'

Trump made it a campaign promise to pull federal funding from cities who choose to remain sanctuary cities after he takes office. 

"Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive federal dollars," he said in an August speech.

What losing funding means


For many cities, that means losing millions in federal dollars that often go toward local government salaries, infrastructure maintenance and schools.

"For San Francisco, that's $1 billion last year. For Denver,  that was $175 million,"  said Cassie Williams, press secretary for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a conservative group that opposes sanctuary cities.  "This isn't just chump change. It's a lot of money that they're risking."

Values over money

Several mayors have acknowledged the financial risk. Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, Massachusetts, for example, said his city risks losing $6 million because of his vow to welcome all immigrants regardless of their legal status. That's about 3 percent of the city's budget, he said.

But Curtatone also said he believes the values of being a welcoming city are more important than the money.

We are not going to stand voiceless and in silence and let a Gestapo-like atmosphere be cultivated in this nation.
Joseph Curtatone

“We are not going to stand voiceless and in silence and let a Gestapo-like atmosphere be cultivated in this nation and come to our communities and break families apart,” Curtatone said.

“That will not be tolerated.”

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