California Grapples with New ‘Sanctuary City Definition

Sanctuary for all Haven DaleyAP
Haven Daley/AP

Several California jurisdictions that are challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking federal funding from being allocated to state and local government that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law are facing a new definition of “sanctuary city.”

Last month, a federal judge in San Francisco blocked the implementation of Executive Order 13768, saying the government had not defined “sanctuary city” clearly enough.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new definition of “sanctuary city” in a memorandum from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The memorandum re-states the executive order’s definition of “sanctuary city,” which refers to 8 U.S.C. 1373. Attorney General Sessions elaborates:

Section 1373 provides in part that state and local jurisdictions “may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, [federal immigration officers] information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful,ofanyindividual.” 8U.S.C.§1373(a).

However, he also states: “the term ‘sanctuary jurisdiction’ will refer only to jurisdictions that “willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.”

The memorandum also clarifies that the federal government would not seek to block all funding to jurisdictions that did not comply with federal law, but would focus narrowly on grants provided by the DOJ itself.

In the memorandum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declares:

In accordance with my duties as Attorney General, I have determined that section 9(a) of the Executive Order, which is directed to the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, will be applied solely to federal grants administered by the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security, and not to other sources of federal funding.

Consistent with the Executive Order, statutory authority, and past practice, the Department of Justice will require jurisdictions applying for certain Department grants to certify their compliance with federal law, including 8 U.S.C. § 1373, as a condition for receiving an award. Any jurisdiction that fails to certify compliance with section 1373 will be ineligible to receive such awards. This certification requirement will apply to any existing grant administered by the Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services that expressly contains this certification condition and to future grants for which the Department is statutorily authorized to impose such a condition. All grantees will receive notice of their obligation to comply with section 1373. The Department will administer this certification requirement in accordance with the law and will comply with any binding court order.

The Los Angeles Times reports that some California cities were relieved by the news. Councilman Eduardo De La Riva of Maywood appeared to misunderstand what, exactly, Sessions had defined: “I am glad to see that … Sessions has taken the time to define — or, at the very least, finally taken the time to understand — what a sanctuary city is and is not.”


Thus far, it would appear that California’s opposition to the executive order will continue.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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