USA attorney general: sanctuary cities may lose Justice Dept grants

Brittany BishopMar 28, 2017

- During the White House press briefing Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions took questions from reporters after he urged sanctuary cities to change their policies toward illegal immigrants.

"Today, I am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with [federal laws]" mandating that states and cities work in conjunction with immigration officers to reduce illegal immigration, Sessions said at the briefing.

Sessions, who heads the Justice Department, said one of his agency's offices was expecting to award more than $4.1 billion in grants this fiscal year.

"After years of the previous administration turning a blind eye to this issue, the federal government is sending a clear and necessary message that the laws of this land are going to be enforced", he said in a statement. "The governor is opposed to that, I'm glad to hear".

The Obama administration previously said that cities that don't honor the detainer laws put forth by ICE could lose federal funds, so Sessions is not the first to make this particular threat.

"Immigration reform should respect the principles of local control, enforce current law effectively and create a process where undocumented immigrants now living in our cities may earn legalized status".

Section 1373 prohibits jurisdictions from restricting employees from sending or receiving information "regarding the citizenship of immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual". Trump signed an executive order shortly after entering office that called for the enforcement of federal immigration laws and saying sanctuary cities "have caused immeasurable harm" to public safety.

State lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would charge local officials who do not comply with federal immigration enforcement with a crime, cut state funding for the local entities they oversee and assess financial penalties for those cities or counties. Trump also cited the Steinle case during his campaign. Those laws require us to promptly remove aliens when they are convicted or detained of certain crimes.

The Department of Justice has a duty to enforce our nation's laws including our immigration laws. Upstate communities including Syracuse, Rochester, Kingston, Newburgh and Ithaca have all identified themselves as sanctuary cities in recent months or even earlier.

Many prosecutors and police in cities across the USA have said that undocumented immigrants have begun avoiding law enforcement officials at all costs since the new administration announced its crackdown on immigration, sometimes even declining to testify in court and report crimes.

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