DOJ quietly proceeds with crackdown on sanctuary cities

Today Attorney General Jeff Sessions, under cover of Trump’s public criticism of his job performance, quietly moved forward with updating the requirements for one type of grant to state and local law enforcement agencies in order to crack down on so-called “sanctuary city” policies.

Sessions’ press release announced that new recipients of Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program grants will be required to meet three requirements related to immigrants:

  • certify compliance with section 1373, a federal statute applicable to state and local governments that generally bars restrictions on communications between state and local agencies and officials at the Department of Homeland Security;
  • permit personnel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to access any detention facility in order to meet with an alien and inquire as to his or her right to be or remain in the United States; and
  • provide at least 48 hours advance notice to DHS regarding the scheduled release date and time of an alien in the jurisdiction’s custody when DHS requests such notice in order to take custody of the alien.

The City of Seattle already complies with the first, and the second two are irrelevant to the city because King County manages all detention facilities within the County. It’s unclear whether the county will have issues with allowing DHS access to detention facilities, or providing 48 hours notice to DHS — especially in cases where the person is held for under 48 hours.

Sessions continued his scaremongering, accusing sanctuary policies of making America less safe.

“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law. This can have tragic consequences, like the 10 deaths we saw in San Antonio this weekend. As part of accomplishing the Department of Justice’s top priority of reducing violent crime, we must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals. From now on, the Department will only provide Byrne JAG grants 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. This is consistent with long-established cooperative principles among law enforcement agencies. 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 makes no mention of, nor tries to refute, evidence that when local law enforcement don’t act as an extension of federal immigration enforcement, it makes cities safer by encouraging trust between immigrants (both documented and undocumented)  and police officers — making it more likely that immigrants will report crimes.