In summary

The Trump administration is increasing its pressure on self-identified sanctuary cities—announcing this week that it would pull some federal grants if cities refuse to notify immigration enforcers when they are about to release undocumented immigrants from local jails.

The Trump administration is increasing its pressure on self-identified sanctuary cities—announcing this week that it would pull some federal grants if cities refuse to notify immigration enforcers when they are about to release undocumented immigrants from local jails.

“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.

Cities that receive funds from the Byrne Justice Assistance grant program are the targets of this new policy. In order to comply, cities will have to give 48-hour notice to federal immigration enforcement when an inmate is about to be released, allow agents into local and state jails to pick up undocumented inmates, and comply with a law that requires they not block the flow of information about the immigration status of those arrested.

San Francisco received $1.5 million last year from the grant program, which aims to decrease drug use and help with rehabilitation. City leaders have contended that their policies are already in line with the federal government. Under the guidelines for the grant program, cities already are required to allow federal agents into their jails and to give the government two days’ notice before releasing an inmate in the country illegally. The City Attorney’s office is reviewing the announcement and according to the San Francisco Chronicle said it did not “anticipate it would be successful.”

Critics are reviewing the policy and law experts have said it’s unclear if the president or the Department of Justice can place such unilateral conditions on funding.

Recent court decisions that blocked previous threats to cut off federal funds for sanctuary cities. At that time U.S. District Judge William Orrick III in San Francisco said the push by the administration went beyond the president’s authority.

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Elizabeth Aguilera

Elizabeth Aguilera is an award-winning multimedia journalist who covers health and social services for CalMatters. She joined CalMatters in 2016 from Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she...