Attorney General Sessions Takes Aim at Sanctuary Cities

Attorney General Jeff Sessions urged so-called "sanctuary cities" to comply with immigration enforcement on Monday, saying that jurisdictions who do not abide by the Department of Justice's rules regarding the harboring of undocumented immigrants will not receive federal grant money.

After years of violating federal law, the attorney general said communities not working with federal authorities to ensure illegal immigrants detained by law enforcement are deported will suffer consequences. "Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards".

Sessions urged sanctuary cities to consider the damage they're doing to national security and public safety by refusing to enforce immigration laws, according to ABC News.

President Donald Trump lacks constitutional authority to broadly cut off funding to sanctuary cities that have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families, Schneiderman added.

His statement drew swift pushback from NY state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who said his office would continue helping local governments "have the tools they need to protect their immigrant communities".

While there is not a set definition of a "sanctuary" state or city, the Justice Department gives the example of states or cities refusing immigration agents' requests to hold immigrants who came to the country illegally.

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In a surprise appearance at the White House Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions further warned sanctuary cities against harboring risky criminal illegal aliens and detailed coming consequences for doing so.

DOJ grants go toward funding everything from police body cameras to officer trainings for deescalation techniques.

California's Senate President said the Attorney General's statement is nothing short of blackmail.

In the current fiscal year, Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs is slated to award $4.1 billion in grants. In the news conference, Sessions painted a picture of violent criminals on the loose, stating that "countless Americans would be alive today" if it weren't for sanctuary cities and states. Trump also cited the Steinle case during his campaign.

The report listed several NY municipalities counties that have enacted policies to limit cooperation with the federal government on immigration policy, including Ithaca, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties in northern NY and Wayne County outside Rochester.

Opponents of such crackdowns on sanctuary cities say the order undermines the ability of localities to build trust with its citizens and protect them appropriately.

  • Rita Burton