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In ‘Sanctuary City’ Remarks, Sessions Contrasts Miami-Dade County With Chicago

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference Wednesday at PortMiami.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference Wednesday at PortMiami. Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

As the Trump administration looks to tie immigration enforcement compliance to federal grant funding, the U.S. attorney general continues to grumble about the nation’s third-largest city.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised Miami-Dade County, Florida in a televised speech Wednesday for being in full compliance with federal immigration law, while chastising Chicago for its “sanctuary city” policies.

Under the Obama administration, Miami-Dade was one of 10 jurisdictions warned by the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general for shirking Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for wanted undocumented immigrants in custody. Now the county is eligible for federal public safety grants, said Sessions, who is attempting to make funding contingent upon compliance.

The attorney general contrasted Miami-Dade’s zero shooting deaths over the July 4 holiday weekend with the more than 100 shootings and 15 homicides in Chicago during that same timeframe.

“Respect for the rule of law has broken down,” Sessions said. “In Chicago, I suggest the sanctuary city policies are one sad example of that.”

It wasn’t the first time Sessions has grumbled about the nation’s third-largest city.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who refers to his city simply as a “welcoming city,” recently opted to sue the federal government over Sessions’ play to deny Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grants to jurisdictions failing to give ICE 48 hours’ notice prior to releasing wanted undocumented immigrants. His argument is that the Justice Department needs congressional consent to withhold funds from a program the legislature approved without any mention of a sanctuary city contingency in the statute’s language.

Sessions encouraged Chicago to follow Miami-Dade’s example and “recommit to policies that punish criminals,” citing several examples where Cook County, Illinois released an undocumented immigrant in custody only for them to be rearrested. The attorney general further urged Chicago residents to “call your city council and your mayor” on its sanctuary city status, lest they lose out on criminal justice funds.

“It means more money for crime fighting,” Sessions said. “It means we’re partners together.”

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor in Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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