Plan to defund ‘sanctuary cities’ could prove costly, Somerville mayor says

SOMERVILLE, MA (WHDH) - The Trump administration is continuing its tough talk against “sanctuary cities,” which shelter people living in the country illegally by refusing to help the federal government enforce immigration laws.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he is “urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws.” He says the Justice Department will require compliance with immigration laws in order for the cities to receive grants through the Office of Justice Programs.

Somerville is one of about a half dozen “sanctuary cities” in Massachusetts. Mayor Curtatone says Sessions’ words don’t change a thing and that Somerville will remain the way it is.

Curtatone had harsh words for President Trump’s administration, saying “I don’t think the administration knows what they can do.”

The words come after Attorney General Sessions announced he’d withhold justice department grants for sanctuary cities. It’s a move that Curtatone says could potentially cost Somerville hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When asked if the plan could cost Somerville as much as $300,000, Curtatone said it was “not clear” but that it could be significant amount.

At the White House, the attorney general said the Justice Department is set to dole out $4 billion this year, but will try to prevent any of it from going to sanctuary cities.

Curtatone said he needs clarity from the administration, but admits it could have a big impact.

“Ironically what it does is it impacts public safety. It impacts our police’s ability to do the great work we are doing in Somerville. I invite Mr. Sessions to come to Somerville,” Curtatone said.

Curtatone said he’s not ruling out legal avenues. He suggested the president is using this as a distraction to take away from the failed health care bill to the Russia investigation.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued a statement, saying that he plans to continue to fight for the residents of his city.

“The safety and well-being of our residents is, and will continue to be, my top priority as Mayor of Boston. The threat of cutting federal funding from cities across the country that aim to foster trusting relationships between their law enforcement and the immigrant community is irresponsible and destructive,” Walsh said.

 

 

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