PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – In a speech to federal law enforcement officers Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions again threatened to strip funding from so-called “sanctuary cities,” despite a Friday ruling from a federal judge in Chicago who said Sessions’ policy is unconstitutional.
Sessions announced in July that sanctuary cities – where local law enforcement releases undocumented immigrants after their arrest or jailing instead of holding them for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers – could no longer count on federal public safety grants.
Portland, half a dozen other cities and the state of California sued the Justice Department, claiming it would violate the Fourth Amendment for local authorities to hold immigrants when their only violation is being in the country without documents.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber on Friday sided with Chicago in its suit against the Justice Department, finding that the policy exceeded Sessions’ authority.
In Portland on Tuesday, Sessions spoke as if that ruling never happened.
Standing in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building, at a podium in the room where naturalized residents take their oath of citizenship, Sessions detailed a litany of violent crimes he said were committed by undocumented immigrants. He said sanctuary cities “undermine the moral authority of law” and endanger the lives of citizens and law enforcement.
“Yet, rather than reconsider their policies, these sanctuary jurisdictions feign outrage when they lose federal funds as a direct result of actions designed to nullify plain federal law,” Sessions said. “Some, including Portland, have even decided to sue this administration so that they can keep receiving taxpayer-funded grants while continuing to impede federal immigration enforcement.”
Sessions appeared to double down on his policy.
“These grants are not an entitlement,” he said. “We strive to help state and local law enforcement. But we cannot continue giving such federal grants to cities that actively undermine the safety of federal law officers and actively frustrate efforts to reduce crime in their own cities.”
(Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to federal law enforcement officers Tuesday in Portland, Oregon. CNS photo by Karina Brown.)