At the White House press briefing on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned sanctuary cities that obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law that they may stand to lose grant money from the Department of Justice. Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions with policies that prioritize the interests of criminal aliens by limiting law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials. Ultimately, these policies shield criminal aliens from enforcement, allowing them to live and work freely in American communities. Attorney General Sessions is not the first federal official to make this threat. Last year, the Obama administration also threatened to revoke funding from sanctuary cities with policies that violate federal law.

Attorney General Sessions made clear that the Department of Justice will take action to “claw back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction” that has a sanctuary policy in violation of federal law. The Department of Justice is able to award more than $4.1 billion in grant money to state and local jurisdictions this fiscal year. “We intend to use all the lawful authorities we have to make sure our state and local officials … are in sync with the federal government,” commented Attorney General Sessions.

In addition to frustrating federal law, sanctuary policies pose serious public safety risks and are widely unpopular across the country. A recent Rasmussen poll indicated that only 35% of likely voters favor their community declaring itself a sanctuary city. This is not surprising, as sanctuary policies only benefit criminal aliens who should be deported because they put all residents at risk. As a result of  public outrage against sanctuary policies, lawmakers in at least 25 states have introduced legislation to ban these policies.

“I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws and to rethink these policies. Such policies make their cities and states less safe — public safety as well as national security are at stake — and put them at risk of losing federal dollars,” Attorney General Sessions said.