Sanctuary Cities, Maryland Could Lose Federal Justice Grant Dollars

The Attorney General announces that sanctuary cities could lose federal Department of Justice funding, with a specific mention of legislation pending in Maryland.

The Attorney General released a statement today, available on the Department of Justice website. In part, he states,

DUIs, assaults, burglaries, drug crimes, gang crimes, rapes, crimes against children and murders.  Countless Americans would be alive today – and countless loved ones would not be grieving today – if the policies of these sanctuary jurisdictions were ended.

Not only do these policies endanger the lives of every American; just last May, the Department of Justice Inspector General found that these policies also violate federal law.

The President has rightly said that this disregard for the 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 our immigration laws.

The order also states that “the Attorney General and the Secretary [of Homeland Security] . . . shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply” with the law “are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.”

According to The Hill, state and local governments seeking Justice Department grants must certify they are not “sanctuary cities.”

Sessions also called on Maryland to scrap any movement toward becoming a sanctuary state. Legislation is making its way through the state legislature.

“That would be such a mistake,” he said.

“I would plead with the people of Maryland to understand this makes the state of Maryland more at risk for violence and crime, that it’s not good policy.”

The Maryland bill in question, HB 1362, set explicit parameters limiting state and local agencies and officials from cooperating with federal immigration efforts. As introduced the bill broadly prohibited government agents from assisting federal agents, releasing information, and responding to notifications so long as those actions were taken for immigration enforcement purposes.

HB 1362 passed out of the House with amendments that significantly curtailed a number of provisions within the bill. As amended the bill prohibits government participation in federal immigration efforts unless there is a judicial warrant. The bill now sits within the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee which has not yet taken any action on it or its crossfile SB 835. Governor Hogan has stated he would veto the bill. MACo opposed HB 1362 as its stringent limitations would create logistical and public safety challenges that have far-reaching and significant consequences for local governments.

For more information, see Sessions says grants to be withheld from sanctuary cities from The Hill, Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks Announcing Sanctuary Jurisdictions from the Department of Justice, and Revised immigration Trust Act moves forward in House from The Baltimore Sun.