The Justice Department issued a new warning to sanctuary cities Tuesday, saying they must prove they fully cooperate with immigration agents in order to claim federal law enforcement grant money.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said jurisdictions that don’t allow federal agents into their prisons and jails, and that refuse to give at least 48 hours’ notice before releasing illegal immigrants, will lose money.
“This is what the American people should be able to expect from their cities and states, and these long overdue requirements will help us take down MS-13 and other violent transnational gangs, and make our country safer,” he said.
The warning was attached to the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, which doles out nearly $400 million in funds.
Both the Obama and Trump administrations have concluded that federal law requires local law enforcement to cooperate on immigration enforcement in order to be eligible for these kinds of grants.
But a number of cities and counties have balked, saying they should be able to get the funding while also deciding what level of cooperation to offer. They say that being forced to help federal agents poisons their relationship with their immigrant communities.
A federal court has sided with the Trump administration, at least on law enforcement grants, saying it does appear to have the power to withhold cash from localities that are breaking the law by refusing to share information.