DENVER - Next Question: With word that Denver has decided to defy the federal government on immigration policy, and will likely lose federal funding because of it, is this legal?
Let’s take this in two parts.
Simply, yes, it is legal for Denver to refuse voluntary cooperation with federal immigration officials. You can agree or disagree with the approach, but state and local workers don't have to enforce immigration law.
Secondly, it’s also legal for the feds to withhold some funding in retaliation. Denver is fighting this in court, but the answer previously has been that the government can do this.
In the 80s, the feds withheld 5 percent of states’ transportation funding if they refused to raise the drinking age to 21. The Supreme Court ruled the funding must be tied to the issue at hand, and can't be so much money that it's "coercive."
The federal funding in question for Denver applies just to law enforcement.
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