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  • South Korean immigrant recites the Pledge of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in New York City. But others like her who have yet to take the oath could be targeted by Donald Trump’s war on sanctuary jurisdictions. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    President Donald Trump’s war on so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions has sparked a backlash from the nation’s cities. They say Trump’s executive order banning federal funds is misguided because it’s based on “false assumptions” and “vague definitions.”

    Trump signed the order yesterday to punish Americans who live in cities, towns and counties that are sympathetic to the plight of undocumented immigrants.

    Known as “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” the order would bar all federal funds, except those mandated by law, from jurisdictions that “willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States.”

    The order grants broad powers to the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department to identify sanctuary jurisdictions and imposed penalties on them, without specifying what constitutes an offending jurisdiction.

    The National League of Cities (NLC) was one of a number of groups that took issue with the executive order.

    “There appears to be a false assumption that ‘sanctuary cities’ prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from enforcing immigration laws,” said NLC President Matt Zone, who serves on Cleveland’s City Council in red state Ohio.

    “This could not be further from the truth,” he added.

    “The reality is that in cities across the nation, police departments are routinely cooperating with ICE’s immigration enforcement efforts, while at the same time building constructive relationships with their communities to improve public safety,” Zone said.

    Only last year, congressional legislation was defeated that defined and penalized sanctuary cities. The measure could have cost cities $137 million in funds earmarked for hiring police.

    “In practice, federal programs intended to partner with cities and towns on immigration enforcement are broken,” Zone said.

    He urged Trump to “open a dialogue with city leaders, and work with local governments to enact real, comprehensive immigration reform that respects the principles of local control.”

    The matter may not get that far, however.

    Legal experts say the executive order is unconstitutional on its face for a number of reasons.

    The order seriously undermines constitutional federalism by forcing local jurisdictions to obey presidential dictates, without authorization from Congress, according to The Washington Post.

    The order may also violate the Constitution’s separation of powers clause for trying to circumvent Congress and is likely too vague to pass muster with the Supreme Court.

    The court has prohibited the federal government from imposing conditions on state and local grants unless the conditions are “unambiguously” stated in law “so that the States can knowingly decide whether or not to accept those funds,” according to The Post.

    Following the election in November, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared the entire state a sanctuary for immigrants, Muslims and gay Americans. He joined a growing list of city mayors who are refusing to support Trump’s draconian immigration plans.

    Among the nation’s mayors refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities are Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and Seattle’s Ed Murray Providence, RI, Mayor Jorge Elorza and Newark’s Ras Baraka .

    Other sanctuary cities include Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minneapolis. In all, more than 400 cities and communities around the country provide some type of sanctuary protection, according to the National Immigration Law Center in Washington, D.C.

    Currently no federal law exists requiring state and local law enforcement authorities to report illegal immigrants to ICE authorities.

    Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said his the department would not assist deportation efforts by the federal government, according to The Los Angeles Times.