AG Sessions targets “sanctuary cities”
Denver, Boulder vow to resist threats from feds
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.