Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who on Monday said federal grants would be withheld from sanctuary cities. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Seeking 'To Create a Police State,' AG Sessions Threatens Sanctuary Cities

But "state and local governments and law enforcement have broad authority under the Constitution to not participate in federal immigration enforcement," says New York's attorney general

Andrea Germanos

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday took aim at sanctuary cities, saying such communities must end and that his Department of Justice would deprive them of federal grants—a move that prompted the New York attorney general to vow his continued resolution in resisting the Trump administration's "draconian policies."

"Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets," he said during a White House press briefing.

"We intend to use all the lawful authorities we have to make sure our state and local officials … are in sync with the federal government," Sessions said.

Existing grants, he added, could be "clawed back" from such cities.

NPR notes:

The announcement is in line with a January executive order that Trump signed shortly after taking office that directed the attorney general and the Homeland Security secretary to withhold such federal funds.

"There is a question about whether the federal government could withhold a wide array of federal funds from cities over their sanctuary status and still survive a legal challenge," as TIME notes.

Sessions' statement comes amidst a broad immigration crackdown on the part of the Trump administration.

Last week, for example, the administration released its first Declined Detainer Outcome Report, which lists jurisdictions not complying with a deportation request by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That document was swiftly decried as "part of an overall strategy to try to scare jurisdictions into becoming deportation agents."

According to Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law president and executive director Kristen Clarke, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeks to create a police state in which local and state law enforcement are acting at the behest of the federal government to round up immigrants in communities across the country."

"Cities seeking to comply with the Constitution and protect immigrant communities should be able to do so without heavy-handed threats from the federal government. We will continue to stand up against this administration' actions that promote unlawful profiling and xenophobia," she added.

Sessions' announcement also drew the ire of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who said, "Despite what Attorney General Sessions implied this afternoon, state and local governments and law enforcement have broad authority under the Constitution to not participate in federal immigration enforcement."

"As my office's legal guidance makes clear, President Trump lacks the constitutional authority to broadly cut off funding to states and cities just because they have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families," he said.

Negating Sessions' argument, Schneiderman added, "Public safety depends on trust between law enforcement and those they bravely serve; yet, again and again, President Trump's draconian policies only serve to undercut that trust."

"My office will continue to ensure local governments have the tools they need to legally protect their immigrant communities—and we won't stop fighting to beat back President Trump's un-American immigration policies," his statement adds.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'Truly Disturbing': Facebook Blasted for Blocking NYU Researchers Examining Ad Model and Misinformation

"It is disgraceful that Facebook is attempting to squash legitimate research that is informing the public about disinformation on their platform."

Jessica Corbett ·


After Decades-Long Grassroots Push, Key Senate Panel Votes to Repeal Iraq War Authorization

Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of the U.S. House to vote against the AUMF in 2001, called the vote "a major victory in our fight to end forever wars."

Julia Conley ·


Mexico Files Historic Lawsuit Against US Gun Companies Fueling Cartel Carnage

The first-of-its-kind suit alleges U.S. weapons firms "design, market, distribute, and sell guns in ways they know routinely arm the drug cartels in Mexico."

Brett Wilkins ·


As EPA Forced to Finalize New Rules, Report Details Widespread Use of Neurotoxic Pesticide Across US

"For years, the EPA has avoided protecting children from learning disabilities and has kept chlorpyrifos on the market, in our food, and in our water."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Time for Medicare for All': US Healthcare System Ranks Dead Last Among Rich Nations—Again

"There's no question: our cruel, for-profit healthcare system is broken," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Jake Johnson ·