AG: Sanctuary Cities Face Ineligibility for Future Federal Funds

Melanie Arter | March 27, 2017 | 6:22pm EDT
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AP Photo)

( - Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that states and localities that refuse to comply with federal immigration laws will be deemed ineligible for federal grants.

“Today, I'm urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S.C. Section 1373. Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards,” he said, adding that the policy “is entirely consistent with the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Program's guidance that was issued just last summer under the previous administration.


“This guidance requires state and local jurisdictions to comply and certify compliance with Section 1373 in order to be eligible for OJP grants. It also made clear that failure to remedy violations could result in withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants,” Sessions added.

“The Department of Justice will also take all lawful steps to clawback any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates 1373. In the current fiscal year, the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Program and Community Oriented Policing services anticipates awarding more than $4.1 billion in grants,” he said.

The attorney general said that in one week alone, “there were more than 200 instances of jurisdictions refusing to honor ICE detainer requests with respect to individuals charged or convicted of a serious crime,” according to a report released recently by the Department of Homeland Security.

“The charges and convictions against these aliens included drug-trafficking, hit-and-run, rape, sex offenses against a child, and even murder. Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets,” Sessions said.

He pointed to the murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle who was killed two years ago in San Francisco as an example.

“The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, was an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times and had seven felony convictions,” Sessions pointed out.

“Just 11 weeks before the shooting, San Francisco had released Sanchez from its custody, even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had filed a detainer requesting that he be held in custody until immigration authorities could pick him up for removal. Even worse, Sanchez admitted the only reason he came to San Francisco was because it was a sanctuary city,” the attorney general said.

“A similar story unfolded just last week, when Ever Valles, an illegal immigrant and a Mexican national was charged with murder and robbery of a man at a light rail station. Valles was released from a Denver jail in late December, despite the fact that ICE has lodged a detainer for his removal,” he said.

“The American people are not happy with these results. They know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe. 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,” Sessions said.

Sessions said recent polling shows that 80 percent of Americans “believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crime should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.”

“DUIs, assaults, burglaries, drug crimes, gang rapes, crimes against children, and murderers -- countless Americans would be alive today and countless loved ones would not be grieving today if these policies of sanctuary cities were ended. Not only do these policies endanger lives of every American -- just last May, the Department of Justice inspector general found that these policies also violate federal law,” he said.

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