Washington (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined Monday how the Trump administration will use federal funds to crack down on “sanctuary cities” and states that choose not to comply with federal immigration laws, as it has threatened to do since January.
The comments came after the Trump administration has made a concerted effort to pressure the so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions as part of its aggressive push to enforce immigration laws.
The term refers to jurisdictions like major cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia that have policies in place that limit cooperation in enforcing federal immigration laws and protect local immigrant populations. One of the biggest areas of disagreement between cities and the federal government is over allowing federal immigration officers to make arrests in local jails and prisons.
On Monday, Sessions reiterated that cities and states hoping to receive federal funds or grants must comply with federal law requiring local authorities to share citizenship or immigrant status of individuals to the Immigration and Naturalization Service if requested. The attorney general did not specify which cities or which funds the department may claw back as it has threatened.
Sanctuary cities, explained
Sessions said that local jurisdictions that apply for Justice Department grants and funds will be required to certify they are complying with that law, as was first required by an Obama administration policy put out last summer.
Nevertheless, that specific code does not apply to all forms of sanctuary policies. While local authorities are required to send information about who they arrest to federal authorities, many of the sanctuary policies that DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security find most objectionable are not honoring “detainers” — requests to hold individuals eligible for deportation for up to 48 hours beyond what is required by criminal courts — so that immigrations officials can come pick them up.
“The American people are justifiably angry. They know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” Sessions said, adding that the Trump administration will use “all lawful steps to clawback” all funds that have already gone to states or cities that “willfully violate” the law.
Sessions urged “our nation’s states and cities to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens” by opting to be sanctuary cities, telling reporters that the Justice Department anticipates awarding more than $4.1 billion in grants through its Office of Justice Programs and Community Oriented Policing Services.