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Sessions Threatens To Punish Sanctuary Cities For Not Working With Immigration Officials

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said jurisdictions will have to work with immigration authorities in order to receive grants from the Department of Justice.

Posted on March 27, 2017, at 2:20 p.m. ET

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said so-called sanctuary cities will lose out on federal grants if they do not work with immigration authorities to deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Sessions cited a policy issued last summer under the Obama administration, Section 1373, that requires local agencies to communicate with federal immigration authorities. Sessions said the Department of Justice would also look into clawing back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that refuses or limits how they work with immigration authorities.

“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,” Sessions said. “Public safety, as well as national security, are at stake and put them at risk of losing federal dollars.”

This fiscal year the agency anticipated awarding $4.1 billion in Office of Justice Program and Community Oriented Policing Services grants, Sessions said.

“I strongly urge our nation's states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce immigration laws and to rethink these policies,” Sessions said.

Some jurisdictions, however, have proactively filed lawsuits in anticipation of the federal government pushing back.

Cities and counties across the US have adopted policies that limit how they work with federal immigration authorities. Some refuse to hold immigrants longer than they normally would so Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents can pick them up, while others don’t tell authorities when they are releasing undocumented immigrants from custody.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.