Attorney General Jeff Sessions has provided the Trump administration’s first official definition of so-called “sanctuary cities.”
In a memo released Monday, Sessions defined them as cities or towns that “willfully refuse to comply” with a 1996 federal law. That law requires local, state and federal governments to provide information on any individual’s immigration status.
Sessions’ new definition is in response to President Trump’s executive order that attempted to strip funding from sanctuary cities. But that order was pretty vague, and now we have a better picture of what money is at stake.
Sessions began taking steps to revoke federal grants from nine jurisdictions last month, including Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City.
Representatives for each city say they’ve been complying with federal law.
Shortly afterward, a U.S. district court judge blocked part of the executive order, saying the threat to take away all federal funds could be unconstitutional.
Sessions’ memo also addresses that judge’s decision. He makes it clear that the sanctuary cities would only lose federal grants issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
Sessions does note that in the future, the Department of Justice could “impose additional conditions” on jurisdictions or “tailor grants to promote a lawful system of immigration.”