U.S. Attorney General threatens sanctuary cities like Burien, Seattle 1By Jack Mayne The City of Burien was categorically threatened by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday (March 27) when he threatened to strip some “sanctuary cities” of coveted Justice Department grants for state and local law enforcement, saying those places that did not comply with a particular federal law on immigration would not be eligible for money, the Washington Post reported. Burien joined Seattle earlier this year in declaring itself to be a sanctuary city that would not work with federal agents to arrest illegal immigrants. Seattle earlier became a sanctuary city, and the King County Sheriff’s Office has a long-standing policy not to ask about immigration status nor to assist federal law enforcement officers enforce immigration statutes. Sessions said in Washington Monday that he urges cities “to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies. Such policies make their cities and states less safe, and put them at risk of losing valuable federal dollars.” The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump gave the attorney general permission to “sanction any city that doesn’t readily hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation,” the Post reported. Sessions said the Justice Department will take steps to “claw back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction” that violates federal law. The Justice Department will award more than $4.1 billion in grants to state and local jurisdictions this fiscal year. In reaction, Washington’s 7th District Member of Congress, Pramila Jayapal spoke out against the Sessions comments. “The Trump administration’s latest attack on sanctuary cities is nothing more than political posturing based on alternative facts,” Jayapal said in a news release from Washington, D.C. “The government’s own data shows that the crime rate is lower in sanctuary jurisdictions than their non-sanctuary counterparts. “In the meantime, our cities will not be bullied into making their own neighborhoods less safe by compromising the trust local police have built with immigrant communities. This is a nonsensical policy based on xenophobic falsehoods,” said Jayapal. Also, here’s a statement from King County Executive Dow Constantine:

“The White House continues to use fear to try to divide us. Their intent is clear, but the legal authority is not. If this is about complying with federal law, King County should continue to receive federal funds for important criminal justice programs. “If this is about coercing a local jurisdiction to imprison people without judicial process then no, we will not be bullied — we will continue to honor the Constitution, rather than the extrajudicial orders of any person, including the President. That may or may not put some Department of Justice funding to communities like ours at risk. If this order is a precursor to an attempt to withhold other federal funds, the White House will face legal challenges. Case law restricts the federal government’s ability to place extraneous conditions on spending and grants for state and local governments. “As I have stated many times, we will honor ICE detainer requests only if accompanied by an appropriate, legal order. That is consistent with the Constitution, and our values. Today’s announcement attempts to undermine both.” Here is the funding that King County is scheduled to receive — both directly and indirectly — from the U.S. Department of Justice during the 2017-2018 biennium:
  • $1 million to King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention
  • $400,000 to Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget for recidivism/reentry coordinator
  • $90,000 to King County Sheriff’s Office for trauma-informed domestic violence training
  • $1,146,028 to King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for firearms cases
  • $250,153 to King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for domestic violence cases
  • $454,857 to King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for cases involving youth
  • $175,027 to King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for victims of crime assistance
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