Trump Administration Doubles Down on Policies Against ‘Sanctuary Cities’

The Trump Administration has announced a new policy against ‘sanctuary cities’ requiring the Justice Department to withhold certain grant monies from local jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration agents.  The Hill reports:

The Justice Department said that cities must provide federal immigration officials with access to jails and give a two-day notice before releasing a person who is residing in the U.S. illegally or risk funding being cut off.

The agency’s grants now will only be available “to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities,” according to the agency announcement.

The move marks a change from old rules under which cities could still receive federal grants as long as they could prove they were not blocking local law enforcement from flagging the citizenship status of someone they have in custody.

“We must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals,” Sessions said.

The LA Times reports on the fiscal reach and limitations of the policy change:

The new policy, announced by the Department of Justice, will apply to all cities that get grants from the so-called Byrne Justice Assistance grant program, for which the administration has requested just over $380 million for the coming year.

So far, the new policy applies only to those justice assistance grants, which local jurisdictions can use for a wide variety of programs related to law enforcement, including drug treatment, witness protection and prisoner reentry programs.

Although the move carries considerable symbolism because of the high-profile debate over sanctuaries, the money involved is roughly half a percent of federal grants to state and local governments, according to figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Sessions has been pressuring so-called sanctuary cities for several months, but this is the first time that the Justice Department has set down specific rules and applied them to an entire grant program.

More information:

Trump admin escalates crackdown on sanctuary cities (The Hill)

Trump administration toughens policy toward ‘sanctuary’ cities, but the move affects only some funds (The LA Times)

Billions in County Funding Excluded from “Sanctuary” Order Provision (Conduit Street)

Sanctuary Cities, Maryland Could Lose Federal Justice Grant Dollars (Conduit Street)