WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an appearance at Monday’s White House press briefing to warn sanctuary jurisdictions in the country that they could lose their portion of $4.1 billion in grants from the Department of Justice if they continue to protect murderers, child rapists, and drug traffickers illegally present in the United States.
“The Department of Justice has the duty to enforce our nation’s laws including our immigration laws,” said the attorney general to a room full of reporters. “Those laws require us to promptly remove aliens when they are convicted or detained of certain crimes.”
Sessions cited a “recent poll” saying “80 percent of Americans believe that cities that make arrests, that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.”
He referenced states and cities who have enacted policies commonly known as “sanctuary” policies, those which hinder the enforcement of federal immigration laws. “This includes refusing to detain known felons on federal detainer requests or otherwise failing to comply with these laws,” he said.
Sessions backed his statement with statistics from the Department of Homeland Security:
In a single week 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. The charges and convictions against these aliens include: 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.
The attorney general recalled the story of murdered young San Francisco woman Kate Steinle who was shot and killed by a five-times deported, seven-times convicted felon, recently released from law enforcement custody illegal alien. Her story made national headlines and brought the ongoing issue of Americans killed by illegal aliens to the forefront of the national conversation. Sanchez was released from San Francisco custody just eleven weeks before Steinle was shot and killed before her father’s eyes. Sanchez was released despite an ICE detainer request.
Sanchez admitted to the crime while in jail and said that he came to San Francisco because of its sanctuary city policies.
Sessions brought up another case in which an illegal alien was released from a Denver, Colorado jail in December despite an ICE detainer request for his removal. In March, just last week, he was charged with murder and robbery in a light rail station.
When cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws a nation is less safe. Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities and the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators. 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.
Sessions referenced an Inspector General determination from last May that these policies violate federal law.
The President has rightly said, disregard for law must end. 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’m urging states and local jurisdictions of comply with these federal laws including 8 USC 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. This policy is entirely consistent with the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs guidance that was issued just last summer under the previous Administration. This guidance requires state and local jurisdictions to comply and to certify compliance with section 1373 in order to be eligible for OJP grants. It also made clear that failure to remedy violations would result in withholding grants, termination of grants and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.
The Department of Justice will also take all lawful steps to claw back any funds rewarded to any jurisdiction that willfully violates 1373. In the current fiscal year, Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs and community oriented policing services participates, awarding more than $4.1 billion dollars in grants. I strongly urge our nation states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws and to rethink these policies.
Sessions continued, “The American people want and deserve a lawful system of immigration that keeps us safe and one that serves the national interest. This expectation is reasonable, just and our government has the duty to meet it and we will meet it.”
“We intend to use all the lawful authority we have to make sure that our state and local officials who are so important to law enforcement, are in sync with the federal government,” said Sessions.
Responding to a question regarding cities that continue sanctuary cities in spite of the threat of losing funding, Sessions communicated that he hoped that the residents of those regions would take the case against sanctuary cities to their local officials.
Early and often in the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, then-candidate Donald Trump met with many families whose loved ones had been killed at the hands of illegal aliens. Repeatedly, Trump gave a voice to these “angel” families and promised to see to the enforcement of the United States’ immigration laws.
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