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Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Sanctuary Cities Must End

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Trump administration continued its tough talk Monday against "sanctuary cities,'' which shelter people living in the country illegally by refusing to help the federal government enforce immigration laws.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, the administration but New York and other cities on notice – warning of financial consequences for refusing to help federal authorities find and deport illegal immigrants who have been arrested for misdemenaors.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he is "urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws.''

The Justice Department will require compliance with immigration laws in order for the cities to receive grants through the Office of Justice Programs, Sessions said. The Obama administration had a similar policy in place.

"When cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe," Sessions said.

"Those laws require us to promptly remove aliens when they are convicted or detained of certain crimes," Sessions said. "The vast majority of American people support this common sense requirement."

President Donald Trump had said during the campaign that he would "defund'' sanctuary cities by taking away their federal funding. But legal precedent suggests that would have been difficult to do.

New York City stands to lose millions of dollars. An example of a recent grant that could be affected: more than a half-million dollars for local efforts to combat counterfeit goods and movies.

The United States has more than 140 sanctuary jurisdictions, including 37 cities, which include New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

"According to one recent poll, 80 percent of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities," Sessions said. "Unfortunately, some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate the enforcement of immigration laws."

In a statement, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he won't stop fighting "Trump's un-American immigration policies."

"President Trump lacks the constitutional authority to broadly cut off funding to states and cities just because they have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families," Schneiderman said. "Public safety depends on trust between law enforcement and those they bravely serve; yet, again and again, President Trump's draconian policies only serve to undercut that trust."

Mayor Bill de Blasio and other mayors are standing firm.

"We are a city of immigrants, and we feel that our fundamental reality, our essence, is now under attack," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

On NY1 Monday, de Blasio said implementing Trump's immigration policies would destroy relations between police and immigrant communities.

De Blasio said the city will head to court to fight for the funds the Trump administration said it would deny.

At a conference of sanctuary cities, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was defiant.

"Really sad that the security of our city; the security of our country will be put at stake to just meet a campaign promise to a dwindling base," she said.

"We're not going to turn our police officers into immigration officers," de Blasio said.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said he plans to join other sanctuary cities in taking legal action against the "misguided policy."

"It is highly ironic that the Attorney General claims that withholding law enforcement funds will make sanctuary cities safer when the opposite is true," Baraka said in a statement. "Taking away desperately needed aid for hiring more police officers, providing up-to-date technology to reduce crime, and encouraging initiatives to build trust and transparency between police and the citizens they are sworn to protect is sure to make cities more dangerous."

But critics say many of the immigrants protected by sanctuary cities are a risk for committing more serious crimes.

"These are criminals that ICE merely asks the city to hold on to rather than releasing back into the streets," said Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute. "The abomination of sanctuary cities has to end."

Monday's announcement comes as the White House was responding to the Senate's plans to question Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner as the Intelligence Committee investigates ties between Trump associates and Russia.

"He volunteered to go and sit down with them and say, 'I will talk about the role that I played and the individuals I met with,'" White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. "But again, given the role that he played during the campaign and the transition, he met with countless individuals. That was part of his job.

On another front, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, demanded Monday that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, be removed as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

"If Speaker (Paul) Ryan wants the House to have a credible investigation, he needs to replace Chairman Nunes," Schumer said.

Nunes, a Trump ally, was on White House grounds last week viewing classified information. Committee members say they were left in the dark.

And late Monday, President Trump weighed in on Twitter, saying the House Intelligence Committee should investigate links between Russia and Bill and Hillary Clinton. He called the "Trump Russia story" a "hoax."

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

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