Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday the Justice Department will impose new conditions on popular grants for local law enforcement to limit the flow of federal funds to sanctuary cities.
“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,” Sessions said in a statement.
“This is consistent with long-established cooperative principles among law enforcement agencies,” the statement added. “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.”
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The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program is “the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions,” according to the Office of Justice Programs.
Byrne JAG grants provide funding to state and local governments for a wide array of critical criminal justice areas, including law enforcement, prosecution, courts, crime prevention, corrections, drug treatment, crime victim and witness initiatives and mental health programs.
The Justice Department said the new conditions on Byrne JAG grants will “increase information sharing between federal, state, and local law enforcement, ensuring that federal immigration authorities have the information they need to enforce immigration laws and keep our communities safe.”
Sessions said the new conditions are necessary to combat “so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies.”
“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Sessions said.
Sessions said sanctuary policies can have “tragic consequences.” He linked such policies to the recent deaths of 10 illegal immigrants who died in an overheated trailer in the parking lot of a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas.
“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,” Sessions said. “This can have tragic consequences, like the 10 deaths we saw in San Antonio this weekend.
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“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,” he added.
The Justice Department’s announcement comes as President Donald Trump continues to publicly criticize Sessions for taking a “weak position” on his handling of scandals involving Hillary Clinton.
On Monday, Trump questioned why the “beleaguered” Sessions wasn’t looking into “Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations.”
Trump jabbed Sessions again Tuesday for taking a “VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes.”
Trump continued the attack against his attorney general Wednesday, questioning why Sessions hasn’t replaced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife received $700,000 in political donations from Clinton allies during her 2015 Virginia state Senate race.
Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, said Wednesday he didn’t know if Trump wanted a new attorney general. Scaramucci said Trump’s public criticism of Sessions was the president’s way of signaling he needs loyalty from his cabinet officials.
“What the president is trying to do, he’s signaling to people that ‘I need your loyalty, I need your advocacy. If you are doing things I don’t like, I’m going to express that.’ He’s not a Washingtonian. We are both New Yorkers,” Scaramucci said. “What I don’t like about Washington is people do not let you know how they feel. They’re very nice to your face and then they take a shiv or a machete and they stab it in your back. I don’t like it. I’m a Wall Street guy, and I’m more of a front-stabbing person and I would rather people tell directly how I feel about things than this sort of nonsense.”