SESSIONS: Cities With Sanctuary Policies Won’t Get Public Safety Grants

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today that cities must comply with federal immigration law to participate in the newly created National Public Safety Partnership (PSP).

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Jeff Sessions Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC)

The PSP was created on June 20 as part of President Donald Trump’s executive order on crime reduction and public safety, but it was established without immigration enforcement requirements for participants. PSP is a partnership between the federal and local governments to provide training and technical assistance to areas with above-average violent crime.

PREVIOUSLY: Dept of Justice Begins Sanctuary City Crackdown in Earnest

Now Sessions has updated the PSP mandates so cities that participate must give the Department of Homeland Security 48-hours notice before releasing illegal immigrants; allow DHS to question jailed illegal immigrants; and permit open communication between local and federal officials.

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These changes are meant to prevent incidents where violent illegal immigrants are released from local police custody.

“By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe,” Sessions said. “We saw that just last week, when an illegal alien who had been deported twenty times and was wanted by immigration authorities allegedly sexually assaulted an elderly woman in Portland, a city that refuses to cooperate with immigration enforcement.”

PREVIOUSLY: Analysis Shows Sanctuary Cities Have Higher Crime Rates

PSP provides assistance to 12 cities, but the DOJ said it plans to add more this year. Of the 12 cities in the program, only Houston’s policies may affect its eligibility, according to Center for Immigration Studies.

Sessions said this policy will make officers safer and their jobs easier.

“The Department of Justice is committed to supporting our law enforcement at every level, and that’s why we’re asking ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to stop making their jobs harder,” Sessions said. “By taking simple, common-sense considerations into account, we are encouraging every jurisdiction in this country to cooperate with federal law enforcement.”

Some departments have said the exact opposite: That enforcing federal immigration law makes their job more difficult because it decreases their respect in the community and costs more money.

Edgar Garcia, police chief of El Cenizo, Texas said Governor Greg Abbott’s signing of SB 4, which makes police officers criminally liable for failing to cooperate with federal immigration law, complicates his job.

Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and other local governments are challenging the constitutionality of SB 4.

“I stress out about it,” Garcia said, according to Dallas Morning News. “I would almost prefer for the lawsuit to beat SB 4 because it’ll relieve a lot of the burden off our shoulders.”

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said it will cost his department money and respect.

“The cost in terms of the public trust of our community, that’s already starting to manifest itself in a significant reduction of reporting of crime by the Hispanic community,” Acevedo said.

Many Texas police chiefs support the law and believe immigration enforcement at the local level is vital for public safety.

Richard Ozuna, police chief of Sullivan City, Texas, said allowing local officials to enforce federal immigration laws will help prevent sex and drug trafficking, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The DOJ requested that four cities — Albuquerque, Baltimore, San Bernardino, and Stockton — interested in PSP prove their compliance with federal immigration law by August 18 in order to join the program. Those first three of those four cities are characterized as sanctuary cities by the Center for Immigration Studies. If these cities want to join PSP, then they will have to end their sanctuary city policies.

PREVIOUSLY: Sessions Takes Aim at ‘Dangerous’ Sanctuary Cities, Warns on Funding

These federal grants offer cities millions of dollars to combat gangs, drugs, human trafficking, and violent crime. The risk of losing federal funds could incentivize sanctuary jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

“That’s what 80 percent of the American people want them to do, and that will ultimately make all of us safer—especially law enforcement on our streets,” Sessions said about cities cooperating with the federal government.

Sessions announced action against sanctuary cities back in March: