Above Photo: A January rally against Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who had issued an order that, in effect, assured the Trump administration the county would not be a sanctuary area. (Alan Diaz / AP)
President Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, may be embroiled in a tense workplace dispute, but there’s one issue they still see eye to eye on: cracking down on undocumented immigration.
Sessions on Tuesday announced a new set of funding qualifications that would limit sanctuary cities’ receipt of federal grants for law enforcement. “So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Sessions said in a statement.
“As part of accomplishing the Department of Justice’s top priority of reducing violent crime, we must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals,” the statement continues. “From now on, the Department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”
The Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) he refers to is “one of the Justice Department’s most popular grant programs,” according to The Associated Press, “which provides police departments money to buy everything from bulletproof vests to body cameras.”
Several hours after Sessions’ announcement, Trump touched on the subject of undocumented immigration in a speech in Youngstown, Ohio. While referring to gangs made up of undocumented immigrants (a stereotypical assumption to begin with), Trump made these comments:
And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns, because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl—16, 15 and others—and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long. Well, they’re not being protected any longer, folks.
It’s not clear if Trump was directly referring to Sessions’ announcement from earlier in the day or simply reinforcing his long-held (and unsubstantiated) view that undocumented immigrants in general pose a violent threat to Americans.
Regardless, both declarations will probably only increase fear among undocumented communities, even in sanctuary cities trying to protect them. Earlier this week, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Thomas Homan, told the Washington Examiner that sanctuary cities “are un-American.”
While Homan remains convinced that strict immigration policies will help deter “criminal activity,” others working in ICE are starting to see the stark reality of the Trump administration’s crackdown. One of Homan’s agents made headlines this week for anonymously speaking up about the culture of “contempt” in ICE under Trump, noting that ICE agents “seem to be targeting the most vulnerable people, not the worst.”