In an apparent retreat on the war against cities and counties that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement, the Trump administration has settled on a narrow definition of what it means to be a “sanctuary city,” and limited the potential financial consequences for state and local governments, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. At most, the sanctuary jurisdictions will lose grants from the Justice and Homeland Security department and not all federal funds, says Attorney General Jeff Sessions. During last year’s campaign and in the early days of the administration, President Trump and Sessions frequently attacked cities, states and corrections agencies that refused to assist with federal immigration enforcement, saying illegal immigration was fueling what he described as a surge in gang violence and other crime.
Five days after taking office, Trump signed an executive order that said sanctuary jurisdictions were not eligible to receive federal grants, and Sessions later emphasized that point at a White House news briefing.U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco blocked enforcement of Trump’s order, saying that it violated the Constitution and brought on “substantial confusion and justified fear” in local governments that they would lose all their federal grants, not just their law enforcement funding. The Trump administration had never actually spelled out what it meant to be a sanctuary city. On the campaign trail, Trump focused on immigrants who committed crimes after being released from custody, including the case of Kathryn Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed by a man in the U.S. illegally who had been in jail.