Questions, answers about funding threats to sanctuary cities

Justin Greene
March 29, 2017

During the White House press briefing on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned sanctuary cities that they must comply with federal immigration laws or face federal funding cuts.

"I urge our nation's states and cities to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to re-think these policies".

Donald Trump's attorney general warned United States cities that turning a blind eye to illegal migrants could jeopardize billions in federal funding, as the administration doubled down on tough immigration policies Monday.

Sanctuary jurisdictions, which include 600 sanctuary cities and counties, as well as some states according to the National Immigration Law Center, are jurisdictions that choose not to inform immigration officials when certain undocumented immigrants are released from official custody. Four sanctuary cities-New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York-collectively received $15 million in justice grants In 2016, the agency said.

Sessions' announcement follows President Donald Trump's executive order in January that gave the attorney general the authority to sanction any city that doesn't readily hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation. The Austin American-Statesman asked local law enforcement officials, and they said Sessions' actions probably won't affect them because they're actually complying with the federal regulation he's pointing to: U.S. Code 1373.

According to Trump's executive order, Sessions would have to wait until the Homeland Security Department determines what constitutes a "sanctuary city" before funding is restricted.

"If Attorney General Sessions is so concerned about Seattle's safety, pulling law enforcement dollars from cities nationwide is the height of hypocrisy and makes us less safe", Murray said.

"Federal law trumps state or city law and regulations", she noted, adding that polls have shown 80 percent of Americans support President Trump on the issue.

Last week, Maryland's Democratic-controlled House of Delegates approved legislation to bar police statewide from checking the immigration status of individuals they arrest or from keeping them locked up longer than otherwise warranted at the request of federal agents seeking to deport them.

Law enforcement authorities say cutting federal funding to "force" local policies to change is "troubling" and the notion that police do not cooperate with ICE is wrong.

"The Department of Justice will also take all lawful steps to claw-back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that wilfully violates (the relevant section)..." SDPD officers don't initiate contact for the sole goal of checking someone's immigration status, or ask the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses, he said.

Broadly, people use it to describe jurisdictions with policies and practices that limit local involvement in immigration enforcement.

Sessions pointed to a recent report that said 206 out of 3,083 detention requests nationwide over a weeklong period were not honored by local law enforcement, including four in Los Angeles and one in Anaheim.

The problem, obviously, is that by harboring and often even releasing unsafe illegals, sanctuary cities are themselves playing Russian roullette with the lives of law-abiding citizens. "And if the Trump administration wants to make it the role of local government, then it's yet another unfunded mandate".

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office says withholding funding is "unconstitutional". "It is shocking that the U.S. Attorney General, the nation's top law enforcement official, does not agree with this basic principle of public safety".

Financial penalties for sanctuary jurisdictions are now the subject of several current lawsuits.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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