U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that jurisdictions must demonstrate they are not sanctuary cities in order to receive financial grants from the Justice Department.
He said he’s carrying out a policy laid out by the Obama administration last year, which identified three grant programs — the COPS grants, Byrne grants and State Criminal Alien Assistance Program money — that already require certification.
The Obama administration didn’t end up enforcing that policy, but Sessions said he’ll begin.
Sanctuary cities refuse to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and thereby inhibit the enforcement of federal immigration laws, harboring illegal criminal aliens and criminal refugees.
The issue of sanctuary cities leapt back onto the public stage in a big way last week when it was reported by WND, Fox News and other news outlets that a 14-year-old girl had been brutally raped by two illegal aliens inside a Rockville, Maryland, High School bathroom. The two alleged rapists were ages 17 and 18 and had been placed in the ninth grade at Rockville High.
WND was one of the first to deliver a comprehensive report on the Montgomery County assault of the 14-year-old, who was forced into a bathroom and into a stall where the two young men allegedly raped and sodomized her.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are more than 300 sanctuary cities and counties in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security last week released a list of the 100 worst offenders.
Since President Trump announced he planned to defund the sanctuary cities and counties, some like Miami-Dade County in Florida have decided to change policies and cooperate with ICE officers while others have decided to become sanctuaries that weren’t previously.
Others such as Chicago, New York and Portland, Oregon, have doubled down and said they will remain sanctuary cities even if federal funding is pulled, although they can probably be counted on to file lawsuits that try to stop the funds from being removed.
The Portland City Council, for instance, voted last week to “reiterate” that it will remain a sanctuary city. According to numbers from the Portland’s Office of Management and Finance, 1.3 percent of the city’s budget comes from federal sources. But during the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year, that would have resulted in the elimination of $49 million from a budget of $3.7 billion.
Rockville is in Montgomery County, a sanctuary county, and the Maryland State House passed a bill last week declaring Maryland essentially a sanctuary state. The bill still has to pass the state Senate and Gov. Larry Hogan has said that if it does he will veto it.
According to the new policy, Sessions said states and local jurisdiction must prove compliance with immigration law before they can be eligible for $4.1 billion in Department of Justice grants.
Jurisdictions must certify compliance with Section 1373 before they can be eligible for DOJ grants, Sessions told reporters at the White House on Monday. That law regulates communications between agencies and the bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Sanctuary-city policies “endanger lives of every American” and violate federal law, Sessions said, adding that “this disregard for law must end.”
The decision is in line with President Donald Trump’s executive order from January, stepping up enforcement of existing U.S. immigration laws. It is also in line with guidance issued by the Obama administration in July 2016 that cities that refuse to comply with Section 1373 will no longer be eligible for the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) grants.
The DOJ will “claw back” grants to jurisdictions that do not comply with the law, Sessions said.