The Trump administration, signaling its intent to toughen enforcement of immigration laws across the country, threatened on Monday to withhold or revoke law enforcement funding from states, cities and localities that block the police or sheriffs from telling federal authorities about undocumented immigrants in their custody.
In an announcement at the White House, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions said state and local governments seeking certain law enforcement grants would have to certify that they were complying with a law that bars any official from withholding information from the Department of Homeland Security about a person’s immigration status. Those that are violating the policy could see such grants clawed back, he said.
Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’s appearance was an effort to threaten painful consequences for so-called sanctuary cities, those that decline to cooperate with the federal government in efforts to track and deport undocumented immigrants.
“I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws and to rethink these policies,” Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions said. “Such policies make their cities and states less safe — public safety as well as national security are at stake — and put them at risk of losing federal dollars.”
A 2014 law in New York City that restricts the corrections department from telling Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials about an inmate’s release date, incarceration status or coming court dates unless the inmate was the subject of a detainer request supported by a judicial warrant. As a result, the report said, ICE closed its office on Rikers Island.
New York received about $53 million — a tiny fraction of its budget — from the Justice Department in the most recent fiscal year, according to City Hall officials. Much of that funding goes to the police and corrections departments for the police crime lab; ballistic helmets and vests for officers; crime prevention programs; drug and gang task forces; and the like.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the “latest threat” from the Trump administration “changes nothing” in New York. “Any attempt to cut N.Y.P.D. funding for the nation’s top terror target will be aggressively fought in court,” he said.
“It’s simply outrageous that the Trump administration and their ICE agents are putting politics and scapegoating of immigrants ahead of public safety and the ability of local communities to decide how best to keep their communities safe,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund.
Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, called Mr. Trump’s approach “draconian.”
“Despite what Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions implied this afternoon, state and local governments and law enforcement have broad authority under the Constitution to not participate in federal immigration enforcement,” he said.