AG Ses­sions tar­gets “sanc­tu­ary cities”

Den­ver, Boul­der vow to re­sist threats from feds

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Mark K. Matthews Mark K. Matthews: 202-662-8907, mmatthews@den­ver­post.com or @mk­matthews

wash­ing­ton» The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion again threat­ened to cut fed­eral fund­ing for so­called sanc­tu­ary cities, this time through U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, who told re­porters Mon­day that Den­ver and other im­mi­grant-friendly mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties risk los­ing ac­cess to U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice grants.

The warn­ing comes two months af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued a sim­i­lar ex­ec­u­tive or­der that took aim at cities that don’t co­op­er­ate with im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties; the dif­fer­ence this time was that Ses­sions strongly in­di­cated fund­ing for law en­force­ment grants was on the ta­ble too.

“I strongly urge our na­tion’s states and cities and coun­ties to con­sider care­fully the harm they are do­ing to their cit­i­zens by re­fus­ing to en­force our im­mi­gra­tion laws, and to re­think these poli­cies,” Ses­sions said in a short ap­pear­ance at the daily White House press brief­ing.

He added that the Jus­tice Depart­ment also would “take all law­ful steps to claw back any funds awarded to a ju­ris­dic­tion” that does not co­op­er­ate, in­clud­ing by hon­or­ing re­quests to hold sus­pected im­mi­grants in jail past their re­lease date.

In Colorado, the cities of Aurora, Boul­der and Den­ver pre­vi­ously have been flagged as po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tors in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s new fund­ing threats against sanc­tu­ary cities — and Ses­sions on Mon­day named Den­ver specif­i­cally.

“Ever Valles, an il­le­gal im­mi­grant and a Mex­i­can na­tional, was charged with mur­der and rob­bery of a man at a light rail sta­tion,” said Ses­sions, who added that Valles was re­leased from a Den­ver jail “de­spite the fact that ICE has lodged a de­tainer for his re­moval.”

Am­ber Miller, a spokes­woman for Den­ver Mayor Michael Han­cock, dis­puted that ac­count.

“For over two months, ICE never is­sued a fed­eral war­rant even though they were aware Mr. Valles was in the jail,” Miller said in a state­ment. “The AG’s ref­er­ence to the Valles case was in­cor­rect. ICE never is­sued a ‘de­tainer’ to the Sher­iff Depart­ment. They had sub­mit­ted a re­quest for no­ti­fi­ca­tion of re­lease of the pris­oner, which was pro­vided.”

Mil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral funds, in­clud­ing law en­force­ment grants, could be at risk for Aurora, Boul­der and Den­ver if the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion de­cides to with­hold fed­eral funds from mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties it deems sanc­tu­ary cities — though city of­fi­cials in Boul­der and Den­ver vowed to fight back.

Den­ver re­cently joined a le­gal chal­lenge to Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der, and Boul­der — de­spite re­ceiv­ing about $93,000 in Jus­tice Depart­ment grants last year — was pre­pared to ac­cept the loss.

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