Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said Monday he was “not concerned” about a threat to pull federal grant money for failure to enforce federal immigration law.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to deny Justice Department grant money to state and local governments that acted like so-called sanctuary cities. Those are generally defined as cities that turn a blind eye to individuals’ legal status.
Cleveland has never held that designation, but Mayor Jackson said Monday it certainly behaves like one.
“Stopping people, asking people questions, for no other reason than they look at a certain way or talk a certain way, well we won’t do that,” Mayor Jackson said.
Cleveland has received millions of dollars in Justice Department grant money in recent years for safety programs and hiring police officers.
Sessions said failure of local police officers to comply with federal law puts citizens in danger, adding, “Just last May the Department of Justice inspector general found that these policies also violate federal law.”
But sanctuary city defenders argue the opposite, noting, for example, undocumented immigrants may be more willing to report a crime to police if they don’t fear getting deported in the process.
"If, in fact, Mr. Sessions decides to withhold monies from those cities that have declared, I believe there will be a big legal battle over that, and we’ll be supportive of sanctuary cities,” Mayor Jackson said.
When asked specifically about if Sessions were to withhold money from Cleveland, Jackson said, “He’ll be in for a big fight.”