President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday, threatening to halt federal funding to sanctuary cities and counties.
Palm Beach County, Lake Worth and Jupiter are labeled as sanctuary communities on several lists, although officials in all three areas reject the label.
“That’s a federal issue,” Gov. Rick Scott told reporters in Riveria Beach on Thursday. “I haven’t seen the details of what they’re doing. I do believe that we all need to obey the law.”
Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein said the city is following the law.
“We obey the law so I’m still confused why we’re considered a sanctuary city,” Bornstein said.
Right next door to city hall is the Guatemalan-Maya Center, which has provided support for immigrants, both documented and undocumented, for many years.
“We’re here to build community rather than division,” said Tim Gamwell with the center.
Tough words on immigration from President Trump has many at the center worried.
“The largest reaction we’ve heard from people is fear,” Gamwell said.
The center provides anything from legal help to pre-natal care but now several have stopped showing up to their appointments out of fear, Gamwell said.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said in a statement: “Palm Beach County never has been or will be a sanctuary county.”
The definition of what constitutes a sanctuary community isn’t the only thing that’s an unknown. WPTV political analyst Brian Crowley said it’s an unprecedented move by a president to threaten cities to lose federal funding, especially when it’s unclear what funds that would include.
“Does it include FEMA money during a natural disaster? We just don’t know,” Crowley said.
For Lake Worth, a city that’s climbing out of a 30 percent poverty rate and starting to see some improvements, a halt in federal funds is the last thing it needs.
“If it any way causes us to lose federal funding with the stroke of a pen, then it causes us some serious problems.”