Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a surprise visit to the White House on Monday to threaten to pull billions of dollars of grant funding from so-called "sanctuary cities" who refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal immigration officials for deportation.
Sessions rattled off a list of heinous crimes he said were committed by undocumented immigrants, and said if it weren't for sanctuary cities — cities that choose not to detain undocumented immigrants based solely on their undocumented status — these crimes wouldn't have taken place.
"When cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe," Sessions said. "Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators."
Sessions added, "DUIs, assaults, burglaries, drug crimes, gang rapes, crimes against children, murderers — countless Americans would be alive today and countless loved ones would not be grieving today if these politics of sanctuary cities were ended."
Sessions said that any state or city seeking grants from the Department of Justice for things like community policing will be required to certify they are not a sanctuary city before those grants will be considered.
He went on to urge Maryland, which is currently debating whether to become a "sanctuary state," to abandon that plan.
Sessions' announcement that sanctuary cities will not receive Justice Department grants is a watered-down version of President Donald Trump's campaign promise to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities.
Trump had threatened to withhold all federal funding from sanctuary cities and states, such as the state of California, which gets billions in federal funding for its many universities.
"I don't want to defund the state or city, I don't want to defund anybody, I want to give them the money they need to properly operate a city or a state," Trump said in February, according to CNBC. "If they're going to have sanctuary cities we may have to do that — certainly that would be a weapon."
But Sessions said they would only withhold Justice Department grants.