At a White House press briefing Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned U.S. cities which continue to violate law by granting refuge to illegal immigrants face the possibility of having federal funding withheld.
Referencing compliance with a 1996 law which prohibits obstructing local law enforcement from communicating immigration status of suspects in custody to federal immigration authorities, Sessions informed cities which continue to flout federal law face loss of funding from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.
Over $4.1 billion in federal grants are disbursed through the program annually to aid state and municipal with crime prevention programs.
Urging sanctuary cities to comply with federal law, Sessions appealed to the safety concerns of urban America.
“When cities and states continue to refuse to help enforce our immigration laws, our nation is less safe. Countless Americans would be alive today . . . if these policies of sanctuary cities were ended,” he said.
“Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.”
Some New York and California state officials responded to Sessions comments with contempt . State Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) accused the attorney general of “black mail” and “raced-based scapegoating”, while New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vowed to continue protecting “immigrant communities.”
A “sanctuary city” is a jurisdiction which allows residence to illegal immigrants in open defiance of federal immigration law to aid illegals in evading deportation. Local governments considered sanctuaries for undocumented persons include, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Often, sanctuary cities actively limit how much cooperation local authorities will offer to federal officials regarding the immigration status of suspects in local custody.
According to figures from the Center for Immigration Studies, an estimated 17,000 criminal illegal aliens are sheltered in over 300 sanctuary cities nationwide.
[Washington Times] [Reuters] [Fox News] [Photo courtesy AP Photo/Andrew Harnik via Seattle Times]