WASHINGTON — The Trump administration again threatened to cut federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities, this time through U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who told reporters on Monday that Denver and other immigrant-friendly municipalities risk losing access to U.S. Department of Justice grants.
The warning comes two months after President Donald Trump issued a similar executive order that took aim at cities that do not cooperate with immigration authorities; the difference this time was that Sessions strongly indicated funding for law-enforcement grants was on the table, too.
“I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies,” Sessions said in a short appearance at the daily White House press briefing.
He added the Justice Department also would “take all lawful steps to claw back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction” that does not cooperate, including requests to hold suspected immigrants in jail past their release date.
In Colorado, the cities of Aurora, Boulder and Denver previously have been flagged as potential violators of the administration’s new funding threats against sanctuary cities — and Sessions on Monday named Denver specifically.
“Ever Valles, an illegal immigrant and a Mexican national was charged with murder and robbery of a man at a light rail station,” said Sessions, who added that Valles was released from a Denver jail “despite the fact that ICE has lodged a detainer for his removal.”
Amber Miller, a spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, disputed that account.
“For over two months, ICE never issued a federal warrant even though they were aware Mr. Valles was in the jail,” Miller said in a statement. “The AG’s reference to the Valles case was incorrect. ICE never issued a ‘detainer’ to the Sheriff Department. They had submitted a request for…