Two months after President Donald Trump warned America’s sanctuary cities they must comply with immigration officials or pay a price, Attorney General Jeff Sessions backed up that warning with his own statement that the day of reckoning is drawing near.
“The American people know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” Sessions said Monday as he took the podium at White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s media briefing, noting that federal officials could “claw back” funds granted to cities that shelter illegal immigrants.
“Such policies cannot continue,” he said. “They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the street.”
Sessions said he is asking nothing more than obedience to the law of the land.
“Today, I am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws,” he added.
Sessions specifically singled out Maryland, which is considering a proposal to become a sanctuary state. That step comes at the same time as the state has been rocked by the reported rape of a 14-year-old in her Rockville, Md., high school by two older students, at least one of whom is an illegal immigrant.
“I would plead with the people of Maryland to understand this makes the state of Maryland more at risk for violence and crime, that it’s not good policy,” he said, calling the policy “a mistake.”
Federal law requires police agencies to inform immigration authorities when an illegal immigrant is in custody. However, cities such as Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and others refuse to do so.
In January, Trump had issued an executive order cracking down on sanctuary cities.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic,” Trump’s order said.
“Tens of thousands of removable aliens have been released into communities across the country, solely because their home countries refuse to accept their repatriation. Many of these aliens are criminals who have served time in our Federal, State, and local jails. The presence of such individuals in the United States, and the practices of foreign nations that refuse the repatriation of their nationals, are contrary to the national interest,” the order added.
That order gave Sessions the authority to “ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply … are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.”
Sessions Monday indicated the administration is ready to pull funding if necessary.
He also said that communities applying for Department of Justice grants must now show they are following immigration law.
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