Jeff Sessions calls on sanctuary cities to "enforce our immigration laws"

"We are going to become this administration's worst nightmare", said Melissa Mark-Viverioto, New York City Council Speaker.

In fiscal year 2016, the Office of Justice Programs made almost 3,000 grants totaling $3.9 billion to cities, counties, states and other local governments. Middlesex, Ocean and Union counties also say they will protect immigrants.

While Sessions expounded on the Trump administration's concerns about illegal immigration and undocumented immigrants, many critics assert that immigrants are statistically less likely to commit a crime in the United States than citizens. "They make our nation less safe by putting risky criminals back on the streets", he said during a White House press briefing.

"The President is trying to force our cities to join him in his bullying of immigrants and their families", Bickford said in a statement.

Sessions focused his remarks on a federal law known as Section 1373, which says a federal, state or local government may not prohibit or restrict any government entity from "sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual".

But many leaders in cities like NY say it's the Trump administration that's jeopardizing lives, discouraging people from cooperating with police for fear of being deported. He felt he had to assure his city that everyone was safe - by mayoral decree.

The attorney general threatened to withhold as much as $4.1 billion in federal funds, which are administered to states in the form of various grants each year.

Sessions noted a Department of Homeland Security report out last week showing more than 200 criminal suspects released in one week despite Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers.

But city leaders are refusing to back down. Far from being risky, they were the ones in most danger because of exploitation and discrimination. "Trump's immigration policy is based in bigotry not safety". He has frequently made mention of victims of crimes perpetrated by those living illegally in the country. There is no evidence that crime rates among immigrants are any higher than native-born Americans.

"We will fight to protect the safety and dignity of all Angelenos, and we will work closely with our representatives in Congress to make sure that Los Angeles does not go without federal resources that help protect millions of people every day", Garcetti said. "But the point is, it's voluntary whether or not to cooperate", she said.

Earlier this week, Sessions told reporters that policies of non-cooperation with federal immigration authorities are risky and warned it will cost communities federal funding in the future.

Sessions took that harsh stance a step further, suggesting that cities could not only lose out on future funds, but that the federal government may require them to pay back grants that have already been rewarded.

Sanctuary cities, such as San Francisco and NY, refuse to cooperate sometimes by not notifying Department of Homeland Security agents when illegal immigrants are being released from incarceration.

An immigration enforcement activist is praising Attorney General Jeff Sessions for putting so-called "sanctuary cities" on notice.

  • Larry Hoffman