The Trump Administration is reiterating its threat to take away federal money from sanctuary cities that don’t help with immigration enforcement. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance at the White House press briefing Monday to urge sanctuary cities to change their policies. Sessions says the Department of Justice will deny them funding if they do not begin following federal immigration laws.
Sessions called such policies dangerous, saying “they make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the street.”
Sanctuary cities do not pursue details about resident’s immigration or citizenship status, and they don’t voluntarily assist with immigration enforcement. Critics say sanctuary cities wrongly offer “safe harbor” to undocumented immigrants who might otherwise be deported by federal law enforcement officials. The City of Rochester is a sanctuary city.
In response to Sessions’ warning, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement saying he will fight any efforts to defund sanctuary communities. “President Trump lacks the constitutional authority to broadly cut off funding to states and cities, just because they have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families,” he said.
In Rochester, it’s not clear yet what, if any, federal funding would be at stake. In the past, the city has received grant money for homeland security and to fight gun crime. But it’s a very small portion of the overall budget.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren released a statement saying the city intends to follow all federal laws, despite its sanctuary city status.
She said she doesn’t believe funding is at risk. In her statement she said quote, “We find it deeply disturbing that certain federal officials continue to fear-monger by making unsubstantiated claims about those who come to our country seeking a better life.”
Sessions says cities that apply for Department of Justice grants will be required to show they are following immigration law.