Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 28 : U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned of a pending crackdown against "sanctuary cities" on Monday, saying non-cooperation with immigration authorities is "dangerous" and will cost communities federal funding.
Sessions, who took the podium at White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's regular media briefing, said federal law allows withholding of federal funding to sanctuary cities, and signaled that such measures will soon be taken, reports the Fox News.
He said the administration will pull billions in federal funding to sanctuary communities if they remain in noncompliance while adding that that communities applying for Department of Justice (DOJ) grants will be required to show they are following immigration law.
The DOJ will withhold, and could potentially "claw back" grants to localities out of compliance with federal immigration law, Sessions said.
He noted one Justice Department office alone was expecting to award more than USD 4.1 billion in grants this fiscal year.
"Sanctuary cities" are communities that have refused to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after detaining illegal immigrants.
By federal law, all cities are required to inform the feds when they have an illegal immigrant in custody, even if he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
"Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the street," he said. Several big cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as dozens of other counties, cities and towns, also refuse to notify ICE, which can then come and take custody of the illegal immigrant, possibly for deportation.
"Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators," Sessions said.
Just days after his inauguration, Trump had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to publish a weekly list of all detainer requests turned down by local jails.
Trump said the list will "better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions.".