As Part of Trump Assault on Immigrant Communities, Sessions Dangles Carrot to Cops in Four Cities

Then-Senator Jeff Sessions speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, October 11, 2017. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)Then-Senator Jeff Sessions speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, October 11, 2017. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is turning up the heat on four cities with laws preventing local police from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The lead US prosecutor said on Thursday that he wouldn’t consider the municipalities for a recently announced program until they agree to step up assistance to ICE agents carrying out deportations. The four cities are: Baltimore, Md., Albuquerque, N.M., San Bernardino, Calif., and Stockton, Calif.

“By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe,” Sessions said in a press release.

The program — called the Public Safety Partnership — was launched by Sessions in June, to provide assistance addressing “violent crime,” according to the Department. Twelve cities are participating. Baltimore, Albuquerque, San Bernadino and Stockton had all been interested in taking part in the initiative, according to the The L.A. Times.

Although the Justice Department claimed that its Thursday announcement was aimed at “reducing crime stemming from illegal immigration,” many law enforcement officials back sanctuary laws on the grounds that they boost cooperation with immigrant communities.

In the early months of the Trump administration, data from major cities has already shown that immigrant communities are reporting fewer crimes — likely reflecting an increased fear of deportation.

Immigrants are also less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, according to several major studies, raising questions about the Trump administration’s motives.

Though President Trump has railed against undocumented immigrants, his administration is also looking to tighten legal immigration.

On Wednesday, the White House announced its support of legislation called the RAISE Act. The bill would reduce the number of immigrant visas issued by the US, while reversing rules that give preferential treatment to those with family already in the country. The RAISE Act would also restrict immigrants with less proficiency in English.

The Trump administration claims this reform is aimed at boosting earnings of low-skill workers. Its two nominations to the National Labor Relations Board, however, have a history of opposing collective bargaining.

One of the picks, Marvin Kaplan, was fully confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a 50-48 vote. The other nomination, William Emanuel, will likely get a vote after the August recess.