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Source: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/anchorage/2023/07/24/saying-sullivan-arena-shelter-is-closed-for-good-mayor-weighs-giving-plane-tickets-to-anchorages-homeless-this-winter/

To quote Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson:

“I am not going to be responsible for people freezing to death on the street. I’m doing everything I can, literally, I’m doing everything I can to keep that from happening,” Bronson said during a rare extended interview covering a wide range of topics at his office in City Hall.

I am not familiar with the laws and policies regarding homeless people in the U.S. But, it seems to be big trouble for California, which has the perfect weather for homeless people to stay, if they are obligated to accommodate every homeless sent from other states with four seasons a year. And if my understanding is correct, the U.S. does not set any restrictions on the choice of residence for their citizens, but on the other hand, being homeless is illegal in the U.S., except for Oregon and Wyoming.

So by the Constitution or any law in the U.S., can Los Angeles (or any city in California) refuse to take homeless sent from other states?

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    You can check this answer from Law, specifically the "Edwards vs California" part.
    – SJuan76
    Jul 30, 2023 at 11:49
  • I’m voting to close this question because it belongs on Law SE.
    – user76284
    Jul 30, 2023 at 17:26
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    What proportion of homeless people in Alaska are US citizens?
    – gerrit
    Jul 31, 2023 at 7:04
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    Voting to keep this open - just because the question seems to be about the law doesn't rule out politics in it. There are many archaic laws in the US that still exist but are simply not enforced because of politics, and there are some laws that are abused because of politics.
    – sfxedit
    Aug 2, 2023 at 1:23
  • @gerrit Virtually all homeless in Alaska are American citizens. Most are native Alaskan or white American citizens with checkered pasts, plus a boatload of military veterans. Alaska has a greater percentage of Indigenous people than any other state, more veterans, and more felons. Aug 6, 2023 at 7:36

2 Answers 2

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The article you reference does not mention Los Angeles or California, or sending people to random destinations.

Bronson’s homeless coordinator, Alexis Johnson, said by email that the city would like to fund and expand existing relocation programs, which reunite people with their families in Alaska and in the Lower 48.

“The only stipulation for the current program was that they had to have someone on the other end to receive them and offer to house them. Whether that be family or friends. An expansion of this program is being developed that would allow for clients to choose their destination,” she said.

This part of your question, therefore, is immaterial:

But, it seems to be big trouble for California, which has the perfect weather for homeless people to stay, if they are obligated to accommodate every homeless sent from other states with four seasons a year.

The Constitution protects the right of everyone to move freely about the country. No state or city can pre-empt that right.

What needs to be examined is whether the city of Anchorage Alaska is sending people elsewhere against their will. According to the mayor's quotes in the article, the program would be entirely voluntary.

Anchorage can offer to pay for the voluntary relocation of any of its residents to any destination for any legal reason.

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    New York City has long had a relocation program where the city will pay for a homeless resident to relocate anywhere in the country where they can show they will have a social support network (e.g. if you have a letter from your sister that you can stay with her in Tulsa for a year, they will buy you a ticket to Tulsa and see you off). They also allow international destinations if the person has the right to live in that country and will have the required social support network. Jul 30, 2023 at 14:30
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    "According to the mayor's quotes in the article, the program would be entirely voluntary." --- I am worried that it won't be "entirely voluntary" anyway given the severe weather in Winter in Alaska...
    – No One
    Jul 30, 2023 at 18:04
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    @NoOne From the article you quoted:“We set a record this last year on how many people died unsheltered in the city. If something doesn’t happen, we’re going to beat that record this next winter. And so, with that moral impetus for me, we’re going to start giving airline tickets for people to go where they want to go,” Nowhere does the mayor say people will be involuntarily sent elsewhere. The state of Alaska has refused funding for Anchorage's largest homeless shelter, and the city doesn't have funds to keep it open. Voluntary transportation is cost effective to save lives.
    – user46746
    Jul 30, 2023 at 19:37
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    @NoOne What counts as "voluntary" in a legal context is worth a separate question, if you're interested. Generally, though, coercion in a legal context requires a particular set of circumstances, often involving intent and manipulation of consequences, rather than just an adverse outcome per se.
    – R.M.
    Jul 31, 2023 at 14:07
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    These people are living on the streets and freezing to death. Who's doing the coercion, the government or the weather?
    – Barmar
    Jul 31, 2023 at 14:43
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Q: So by the Constitution or any law in the U.S., can Los Angeles (or any city in California) refuse to take homeless sent from other states?

No.

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1 Right to Travel and Privileges and Immunities Clause

In Saenz v. Roe, the Court characterized the constitutional right to travel as having at least three different components:

It protects [1] the right of a citizen of one State to enter and to leave another State, [2] the right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than an unfriendly alien when temporarily present in the second State, and, [3] for those travelers who elect to become permanent residents, the right to be treated like other citizens of that State.

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    I'm sure this is the meat of the answer, though there are surely a few caveats and restrictions when a government is so directly involved. The government can't engage in racial and other certain types of discrimination, for example, so such actions could conceivably be challenged under such grounds when appropriate. Jul 29, 2023 at 23:12
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    @gerrit The law uses the phrase "the right of a citizen of one State". Citizen is used here in its legal definition, so from this law the answer is clearly "no". (Other laws or regulations may protect non-citizens, of course.) Jul 31, 2023 at 12:22
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    @gerrit - While the Constitution says citizen, it applies by law to US nationals (e.g., American Samoans who are not also citizens) and permanent residents (green card holders).
    – Rick Smith
    Jul 31, 2023 at 13:17
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    I think this is the better answer of the two so far, as it answers the direct thrust of the question rather than quibbling over irrelevant details (granted, the asker brought those up). "No." No American city or state can "refuse" them. Although nothing stops them from offering a return ticket and $100 cash in pocket to anyone who wants to go back...
    – JamieB
    Jul 31, 2023 at 20:25
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    Under the doctrine of field preemption, the Immigration and Nationality Act arguably preempts state governments from imposing any travel restrictions on anyone who is in the US legally. In the case of someone who is present without authorization, it gets a bit murkier. The argument could still be made that Congress intended to reserve this authority exclusively to the federal government. Most people who are in the US illegally cannot be deported without due process, and the decision not to detain them for the duration of removal proceedings is arguably a decision that they should remain ...
    – Brian
    Jul 31, 2023 at 23:40

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