AG Sessions: No More Funds for Sanctuary Cities

Sessions warned that he would strip DOJ funding from cities like Philadelphia today, following up on Trump’s executive order from January.

jeff sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a file photo. (Alex Brandon/AP)

During a speech in Washington, D.C. today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that so-called sanctuary cities – or jurisdictions that do not comply with federal immigration laws – will not receive grants from the Department of Justice moving forward. 

“The president has rightly said disregard for law must end,” Sessions said. “In his executive order, he stated that it is the policy of the executive branch to ensure that states and cities comply with all federal laws, including all immigration laws. Today I am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S. Code § 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.”

Session referred to a section of U.S. code that mandates that all jurisdictions must communicate and comply with federal agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. So-called sanctuary cities, which refuse to do so, have recently garnered widespread attention and pushback from some federal officials – mostly notably President Donald Trump, who threatened to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities like Philadelphia in an executive order issued earlier this year.

Nationwide, the Justice Department awards more than $4.1 billion in grants to state and local jurisdictions, according to the Washington Post. In 2015 (the most recent data available), Philadelphia received $1,601,647 through the Justice Assistance Grant program, the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions, which provides for various law enforcement purposes. Since 2012, Philadelphia has received $8.6 million in JAG funding, according to PhillyVoice.

Lauren Hitt, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mayor Jim Kenney has previously said that he has no plans to change the city’s immigration policy. Kenney and officials from other sanctuary cities claim that complying with federal ICE agents would weaken the relationship between immigrants and police and gut municipalities of the valuable contributions of both documented and undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, a vocal opponent of sanctuary cities, has penned multiple bills that would drastically cut funding from the city. Toomey and others claim that the measures are an attempt to cut down on crime committed by undocumented immigrants – though many studies show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those born in the country.

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