Sanctuary city defunding is the official move announced by AG Jeff Sessions. Any grants issued by the Department of Justice will be withheld or simply canceled unless jurisdictions certify compliance with Section 1373 of the Immigration Reform Act. He will also take all lawful steps to claw back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates 1373.
The basis of this action rests on a report published by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General last year. Such report, issued by the Obama Administration, states that sanctuary cities are in violation of Section 1373 and therefore should not receive federal funds in support of their local law enforcement efforts.
How Much Money Are We Talking About?
In the current fiscal year, the Office of Justice Programs and Community Oriented Policing Services anticipates awarding more that $ 4.1 billion in grants. Possibly, not all of this money is slated for sanctuary cities. Yet any jurisdiction resisting cooperation with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will see a marked decrease of funds for local police operations.
Three grant programs are affected the COPS grants, Byrne grants, and State Criminal Alien Assistance Program money. All of them already require sanctuary certification. Such a policy was actually never enforced by the Obama administration, but now Jeff Sessions wants to put it into effect.
Some of the sanctuaries refuse any communication with ICE and won’t cooperate in deporting anyone. They will not change their position even after Session’s announcement. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco are some of them:
The City of San Francisco also launched a lawsuit against the Trump Administration on its anti-sanctuary policy. It wishes to prove that, despite its declared sanctuary policy, San Francisco does not violate Section 1373.
New York Holds a Conference to Promote Sanctuary Cities
In the same day, Monday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and dozens of legislators from around the country met in New York to find ways to develop sanctuary city policies throughout the US.
Melissa Mark-Viverito stated:
“It is illegal for the federal government to withdraw funds in a punitive fashion from cities that they say are refusing to comply with ill-guided policies and laws that they are enacting.”
Mark-Viverito said New York is within its legal rights to protect its undocumented residents without fear of losing federal funding. Her office is reviewing Sessions’ order in order to come up with a proper response, which may include legal action.
Strong Controversy Among Constituents in the Sanctuary States
Mayors and Governors of sanctuary cities and states are faced with an internal opposition as well. The general public opinion is apparently unfavorable and recent crimes have heated up the discussion.
L.A. Sheriff Faces Protests for Opposition to ‘Sanctuary State’
Freedom Center Demands Trump Defund ‘Sanctuary Campuses’
Poll: Most Reject Sanctuary Cities, Say They’re Unsafe
Full-Scale Battle Mounting in Maryland Immigration Cases
ICE has issued a new detainer form, replacing a jumble of forms used before. Agents can use it to demand notification when a potential deportee is about to be released. It also asks that the person he held for up to 48 hours. The notification requirement is controversial with only a handful of sanctuaries, but the 48-hour hold is the real problem.
Jeff Sessions’ statement is just the opening salvo of a new wide-ranging battle. It won’t have immediate consequences in the bigger cities, but it will likely influence smaller cities and counties. In the meantime, the National Sheriffs’ Association looks for legal guidance confirming the constitutionality of current detainers. Until then, sheriffs will remain exposed to legal and ethical ramifications.