Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that governments at both the state and local levels would have to prove that they were not “sanctuary cities” to qualify for Justice Department grants. During an impromptu press conference at the White House, Sessions made his intentions clear.
‘Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets. Today, I am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws.’
Sessions’ announcement is only the most recent measure taken by the Trump Administration to fight sanctuary cities; places that refuse to aid federal immigration agencies in enforcing certain laws on immigration. The announcement comes on the heels of the embarrassing defeat of the Republican-backed “repeal and replace” American Health Care Act, which had to be scrapped after failing to gain enough support in Congress.
Sessions told reporters that from now on, state and local governments seeking grants from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs would need to fully comply with federal immigration laws. The Office of Justice is responsible for handing out billions of dollars in grants to aid a variety of U.S. criminal justice programs. The Office’s Victims of Crime division recently announced a sizable grant of nearly $8.5 million to assist victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
The Attorney General included a criticism of Maryland in his speech, as the state has currently been moving legislation through to become a sanctuary state themselves. He told press that the decision would hurt the safety and security of its citizens. Of the legislation, he said,
‘That would be such a mistake. 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.’
None of this should come as a surprise to critics of the Trump administration. During his campaign for office, the president was very clear that a battle with sanctuary cities was in the cards should he be elected. He even made it a habit of mentioning and courting the support of people whose loved ones had been killed by undocumented immigrants. Upon assuming office, the Trump administration enacted an executive order that forced the government to learn what grants were being used by state and local governments hostile to U.S. immigration policy. It also gave Trump and his appointees the ability to limit those grants.
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