WASHINGTON – U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions warned Monday sanctuary cities and counties that they face loss of federal funding if they don’t help enforce federal immigration laws.
“Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets,” Sessions said in a speech given at the White House.
He said sanctuary cities, counties and states could lose their share of $4.1 billion in budgeted grants for the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services program.
Sessions said that in one recent poll, 80 percent of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.
Sessions said the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a report showing that in a single week, there were more than 200 instances of jurisdictions refusing to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (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.
“We all remember the tragic case of Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed two years ago in San Francisco as she walked along a pier with her father. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, was an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times and had seven felony convictions,” Sessions said. “Just eleven weeks before the shooting, San Francisco had released Sanchez from its custody, even though ICE had filed a detainer requesting that he be kept in custody until immigration authorities could pick him up for removal. Even worse, Sanchez admitted that the only reason he came to San Francisco was because of its sanctuary policies.”
Session said, “A similar story unfolded just last week, when Ever Valles, an illegal immigrant and Mexican national, was charged with murder and robbery of a man at a light rail station. Valles was released from a Denver jail in late December, despite the fact that ICE had lodged a detainer for his removal.”
Sessions added that, “Countless Americans would be alive today – and countless loved ones would not be grieving today – if the policies of these sanctuary jurisdictions were ended.”
The Department of Justice will also take all lawful steps to “claw-back” any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates federal immigration laws.