Jeff Sessions' Empty Threat Against Sanctuary Cities

Immigration fearmongering continues for our intrepid AG

Jeff Sessions
Jeff Sessions

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to "claw back" Department of Justice federal funding from so-called "sanctuary cities" during a White House press briefing on Mon­day, March 27: As part of the Trump administration's ongoing crackdown on cities that won't blindly hand undocumented immigrants over to federal agencies, non-compliant cities will now be ineligible for the $4.1 billion in grants dished out by the Office of Justice Pro­grams and Community Oriented Polic­ing Services. The AG said he urges states and cities "to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies."

While Austin would appear to be a target for the funding drain, Travis County spokesperson Kristen Dark says – to the best of the department's knowledge – the rhetoric does not legally affect how Sheriff Sally Her­nandez does her business. Sessions cited 8 U.S. Code 1373, a statute that ensures localities share information regarding a resident's immigration or citizenship status with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforce­ment. Hernandez says the department fully follows the federal law.

TCSO is "completely lawful and upholding the Constitution with our ICE policy," Hernan­dez said in a statement on Monday. "We are also in full compliance with 8 USC 1373. Our policy ... in no way prohibits or restricts sending information to or requesting or receiving information from ICE regarding an individual's immigration or citizenship status, and nothing in this policy shall be construed to prohibit or restrict TCSO personnel from exchanging information regarding the immigration or citizenship status of any individual with ICE."

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said she's "frustrated that Travis County resources and attention are continually diverted from public safety to address unfounded politically motivated allegations of wrongdoing." She added that the statute Sessions cited "has been in our federal grants for many years. We are and have been in full compliance with its requirements. The cited provision is thin cloaking for political retribution." On Tuesday, County Commissioners voted 4-1 (Pct. 3's Gerald Daugherty opposed) to join an amicus brief in support of a San Francisco-based lawsuit against a January executive order to punish "sanctuary cities." Travis will join 34 other cities and counties nationwide to provide assistance in the case, which argues the immigration order is unconstitutional.

In related news: Mayor Steve Adler was expected to meet and talk immigration with Department of Homeland Security Sec­retary John Kelly on Wednesday, as we go to press. We can think of a few questions that we hope Adler remembered to ask.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More immigration
RAICES Pushing Hard on Biden for Real Migrant Justice
RAICES Pushing Hard on Biden for Real Migrant Justice
Not nearly enough

Lilli Hime, March 26, 2021

Joaquin Castro Bill to Protect Sanctuary Seekers
Joaquin Castro Bill to Protect Sanctuary Seekers
HR 4539 would rescind deportation orders for three Austinites currently in refuge in local churches

Mary Tuma, Oct. 25, 2019

More by Mary Tuma
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Oral arguments focus on law’s vigilante enforcement

Nov. 5, 2021

Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Oral arguments focus on law’s vigilante enforcement

Nov. 1, 2021


immigration, Jeff Sessions, Sarah Eckhardt, Kristen Dark, Sally Hernandez, John Kelly

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle