Sessions Narrows Trump’s Order Against Sanctuary Cities

May 22, 2017

The New York Times

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday clarified President Trump’s executive order on so-called sanctuary cities, narrowly defining such jurisdictions — and the money they could expect to receive from the federal government — in a way that appeared to fall far short of Mr. Trump’s previous threats to starve all federal funding from localities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

In a two-page memorandum, Mr. Sessions announced that the Trump administration would withhold certain types of federal aid from jurisdictions that “willfully refuse to comply” with a single federal immigration law. That statute requires cities, counties and states to allow local agencies and officials to exchange information about people’s immigration status with federal immigration authorities.

Only federal grants from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security would be affected, Mr. Sessions said.

But Mr. Sessions suggested that the Justice Department might attach new conditions to future grants. That left open the possibility of requiring local governments to honor requests from federal immigration authorities to detain unauthorized immigrants so that immigration officers can take them into custody. Sanctuary cities commonly fail to comply with such requests.

“Going forward, the department, where authorized, may seek to tailor grants to promote a lawful system of immigration,” Mr. Sessions wrote.

The memo came the month after a federal judge temporarily blocked the administration from cutting off funding to sanctuary cities, determining that the president had overstepped his authority in attaching conditions to federal money. Government lawyers had argued that the administration did not have large amounts of money in mind.

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