Last July, a year after the shooting death of Kate Steinle in California intensified the national debate over illegal immigration, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), chairman of the House panel that controls Justice Department spending, said that jurisdictions like San Francisco would be denied millions of dollars in law enforcement grants unless they complied with federal law on sanctuary cities. Officials in California, Connecticut and other jurisdictions in Culberson’s cross-hairs say nothing has changed, reports the Houston Chronicle. Though Culberson claims to be “judge and jury” in the matter, government briefs filed in lawsuits challenging President Trump’s threatened funding cuts for sanctuary cities also show that officials have yet to take action – and likely face lengthy litigation if they do.
The 10 cities and states targeted by Culberson – including New York City, Chicago and the state of Connecticut – continued to get law enforcement grants worth a total of $96 million in late 2016, even though Culberson says the Justice Department had “certified” them as sanctuary city violators last July. “Nobody’s had any grants withheld,” said Mike Lawlor, Connecticut undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning. Culberson insists they’re wrong and that starting this year, they’re “in for a very unpleasant surprise.” Culberson told the Chronicle, “I’ve already had them certified as violators,” claiming a “quasi-judicial role as chairman of a subcommittee … using the power of the purse to enforce the law.”