Attorney General Jeff Sessions went after sanctuary cities Monday, telling reporters that local law enforcement agencies which have instituted policies causing them to be uncooperative with immigration authorities are “dangerous” and will cost communities federal funding. This is the Trump administration’s most direct warning so far, following last week’s crack-down on cities that refused to work with ICE officials. Sessions said that rescinding federal funding to sanctuary cities is within the law, and these measures will soon be taken if the local governments remain reluctant to follow immigration law.
“Such policies cannot continue,” he said. “They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the street.” By federal law, cities are required to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials when they have an illegal alien in their custody, whether they have been convicted a crime or not.
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There are numerous big cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as hundreds of smaller counties, cities and towns, that refuse to notify ICE, which can then come and take custody of the illegal immigrant, possibly for deportation.
“LAPD has never participated in programs that deputize local law enforcement to act as immigration agents, and on my watch they never will,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week. A spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the administration’s plan to hold back federal funds was the same as President Trump’s travel ban executive order that was put in place several weeks ago.
“The administration’s plan to deny federal funds to cities that are standing up for their values is unconstitutional,” said Matt McGrath, a spokesman for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago is proud to stand with 34 cities and counties across the country in asking a federal court to prevent the federal government from illegally withholding federal funds.”
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement saying that he will fight any efforts made by the Trump administration to defund sanctuary cities in the state of New York.
“My office will continue to ensure local governments have the tools they need to legally protect their immigrant communities – and we won’t stop fighting to beat back President Trump’s un-American immigration policies,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Sessions argues that the policies of sanctuary cities put the safety of the communities in jeopardy.
“The American people know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” Sessions said. He went on to say that the administration is prepared to pull billions of dollars if these cities remain uncooperative with ICE agents. According to Fox News, the DOJ will withhold, and could potentially “claw back” grants to localities out of compliance with federal immigration law, Sessions said. He noted one Justice Department office alone was expecting to award more than $4.1 billion in grants this fiscal year.
Jeff Sessions has always been a strong critic of sanctuary cities and helped President Trump throughout the campaign, giving him guidance about the illegal immigration problem in the country.
In an effort to find which cities are refusing to work with ICE, President Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security to provide a list of all detainer requests that have been turned down by local law enforcement agencies. When asked about the list, the president said it will “better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions.” The executive order also gives the federal government power to withhold funding from sanctuary cities that choose to remain uncooperative.
After a young girl in Maryland was allegedly raped in her high school by two undocumented immigrants two weeks ago, the illegal immigration debate has come to the forefront. The Trump administration is taking a firm stance against sanctuary cities and showing its dedication to keeping the American people safe.