Localities that declared themselves “Sanctuary Cities” to reject federal law and coordination in order to harbor illegal immigrants are now begging for federal help in the face of the Wuhan virus pandemic.
New York City, which has become the epicenter of the Wuhan virus outbreak in the United States, is seeing a surging case load overwhelm its hospitals. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned Thursday that the situation has become so dire the city’s morgues are reaching capacity. Hospitals are stretched thin with dwindling supplies as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo plead for resources from the feds, all while skirting immigration laws as a sanctuary state and city.
Last week, Mayor de Blasio urged President Donald Trump to dispatch the military as the cases began to surge, but simultaneously taking the crisis opportunity to criticize the president.
“The fate of New York City rests in the hands of one. He is a New Yorker. And right now, he is betraying the city he comes from,” de Blasio said, never mind that the mayor’s own lackluster response likely exacerbated the problem by encouraging New Yorkers to go to the movies and hesitating to close schools as the virus was blowing up.
De Blasio demanded 15,000 ventilators, 3 million N95 masks, 50 surgical masks, and 25 million surgical gowns, coveralls, and pairs of gloves in addition to mobilizing the military.
Gov. Cuomo made a similar request on Tuesday, calling on federal help to supply the state 30,000 ventilators from the national stockpile of medical supplies which only has little more than half that number in storage.
So far, the federal government has largely tried to adequately respond to the pleas for help with the available resources on hand, as it reasonably should.
Facing a shortage of equipment on hand himself, Trump on Thursday questioned Cuomo’s need for the 30,000 ventilators requested but has still pledged a fourth of the entire stockpile to be sent to the Empire State. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that 4,000 ventilators would be shipped to New York hospitals. Trump has also said the federal government is sending other supplies such as N95 respirators, surgical masks, face shields, coveralls and gloves, though the amount have come up short of the mayor and governor’s requests and some equipment has become expired while in reserve.
New York is not alone in crying out for federal assistance. Cities and states across the country are beginning to see a spike in cases that threaten to bring their own health care institutions under siege and are depending on federal assistance to come though, all while resisting the same government’s duty to enforce immigration law.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon also announced it would be deploying three Army field hospitals to both New York and Washington state, both of which are declared sanctuary states that refuse state agencies from complying with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Other sanctuary states and cities including California have been granted presidential approval for “Major Disaster Declarations” that will open the door for new federal assistance to pour into states heavily impacted.
The federal government has pulled seemingly every lever to come to the rescue. Trump invoked the Stafford Act and the Defense Production Act to free up additional emergency funds and push the private sector into producing necessary medical equipment needed to combat the outbreak.
Congress meanwhile, has passed several spending packages to confront the epidemic and the economic fallout to follow including a $2 trillion bipartisan stimulus bill that passed the Senate and is expected to pass the House on Friday with the president’s blessing.
If states and cities are so eager to accept assistance from the federal government to combat the crisis, as they should, will they finally allow the feds to conduct federal immigration law?