CHICAGO (CBS) — White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that Chicago can’t expect to continue receiving funding from the Justice Department to fight crime if it maintains its status as a so-called “sanctuary city” that shields some undocumented immigrants from deportation attempts.
Attorney General Jeff Session has vowed to block sanctuary cities from receiving Justice Department grants and to “claw back” existing funds, if they do not begin helping the federal government enforce immigration laws.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley, via Skype, asked Spicer if President Donald Trump would cut off the approximately $12 million a year Chicago receives from the federal government for law enforcement due to its sanctuary city status.
“I think there’s no question. It’s not a question of what he will do. His intention’s been very clear from the beginning, and I think it’s vastly supported by a vast majority of the American people,” Spicer said.
In 2012, the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance to protect undocumented immigrants from being held for immigration authorities, unless they have been convicted of a serious crime or are being sought on a criminal warrant. The ordinance also prohibits Chicago police from allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from using city facilities for interviews or investigations, and bars officers from replying to ICE inquiries or speaking to ICE officials about someone’s custody status or release date.
Spicer said the president does not believe federal tax dollars should be used to fund cities, counties, or states that take steps to protect undocumented immigrants from federal law enforcement.
“You can’t be a sanctuary city and at the same time seem to pretend or express concern about law enforcement, or ask for more money, when probably a number of funds that you’re using in the first place are going to law enforcement to handle the situation that you’ve created for yourself,” Spicer said.
Spicer said illegal immigration and law enforcement are “inextricably linked,” and not fully enforcing federal immigration laws allows crime problems to continue.
“If you have people who are in this country illegally that are part of a gang, that are … a threat to public safety, or committing a crime, then funding that activity and allowing that to fester is in and of itself a problem,” he said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel repeatedly has said the city will remain a sanctuary city, despite the Trump administration’s threats to cut off federal law enforcement funding, arguing the government cannot use the threat of cutting off major funding to coerce states into adopting federal policies, or order local governments to enforce federal law.
“The administration’s plan to deny federal funds to cities that are standing up for their values is unconstitutional, and Chicago is proud to stand with 34 cities and counties across the country in asking a federal court to prevent the federal government from illegally withholding federal funds,” Emanuel spokesman Matt McGrath said in an email earlier this week.