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AG Sessions' Sanctuary Cities Comments Draw Tough Response From Mass. Democrats

BOSTON (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is criticizing the Republican Trump administration's promised crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned cities Monday they could lose federal money for refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities. He suggested the government would come after grant money that already has been awarded to the cities.

Warren said that's both unconstitutional and bad for Massachusetts, which relies on international travel to boost admissions at local colleges, pour money into tourism and support the state's "innovation economy."

Warren, of Massachusetts, said Monday that the Supreme Court has ruled the federal government cannot use the threat of withholding assets or access to federal money in one area to coerce behavior in another area.

Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair Gus Bickford said Democrats stand with sanctuary cities, which include Cambridge, Somerville and Amherst.

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons called the threat of withholding funds "punitive and heartless."

"Cambridge continues to stand proud as an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community to all whom have come here to make a better life," Simmons said in a statement. "Today's statement by Attorney General Sessions does not change that stance."

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone tweeted: "AG Sessions states, "Disregard for the law must end." He's right. He should start with the President and his administration."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said "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 has said he would shelter immigrants in City Hall if needed. Boston Commissioner William Evans has said officers won't arrest immigrants living in the U.S. illegally unless they are accused of committing violent crimes.

Walsh, Simmons and Curtatone are Democrats.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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