Sessions re-ups the threat to funding for sanctuary cities

Is this just a “distraction” intended to draw attention away from the Russia investigations (as some morning show hosts were speculating today) or the opening salvo in a new set of executive actions? Our Attorney General had some tough words for the nation’s so-called “sanctuary cities” this week, suggesting that their federal grant money for law enforcement could soon be in danger if they don’t cooperate with ICE on matters of deportation of illegal aliens. That has the usual list of suspects setting their hair on fire in predictable fashion, so if it’s a distraction, it’s working so far. (Associated Press)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday warned so-called sanctuary cities they could lose federal money for refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities and suggested the government would come after grants that have already been awarded if they don’t comply.

Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of $4.1 billion available in grant money to verify that they are in compliance with a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration officials.

His statements in the White House briefing room brought to mind tough talk from President Donald Trump’s campaign and came just three days after the administration’s crushing health care defeat.

What’s ironic here is that Sessions was only repeating the same thing that Barack Obama said last summer. But back then the media backlash didn’t seem quite so intense, did it? That AP report immediately jumps into a list of the most popular programs they can think of which are funded by the grants, including “victim services, body cameras for police and tools to cut rape kit testing backlogs.”

See how horrible Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions would be if they did exactly what Barack Obama threatened to do?

The fastest and most frantic response came from California. That’s not surprising since they have a large cluster of sanctuary cities and get a massive amount of that grant money. (LA Times)

[I]n Sacramento the swiftest reaction came from state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who is championing legislation that would effectively make California a sanctuary state by prohibiting state and local police from enforcing federal immigration laws. He called Sessions’ statements “nothing short of blackmail.”

“Instead of making us safer, the Trump administration is spreading fear and promoting race-based scapegoating,” De León said in a statement. “Their gun-to-the-head method to force resistant cities and counties to participate in Trump’s inhumane and counterproductive mass-deportation is unconstitutional and will fail.”

I’m just working off the back of the napkin here, but I seem to recall seeing some figures indicating that California receives more than $135M in law enforcement grants annually. New York City gets about half that much all by itself. In fact, when you add up all the sanctuary cities and all the law enforcement grant money they take in, the total comes up to just about $10.4B.

How much was that wall supposed to cost again? Just tossing it out there as an idea, folks.