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Attorney General Lynch Confirms New Sanctuary Cities Policy During Hearing with Chairman Culberson

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Washington, February 24, 2016 | comments

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative John Culberson (TX-07) chaired a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing on the Department of Justice’s fiscal year 2017 budget with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. In response to concerns from this Committee, the Attorney General confirmed that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has implemented a new immigration detainer policy, and that the DOJ has begun a new policy regarding grant requests. First, the Attorney General announced BOP will offer Immigration and Customs Enforcement, instead of states and municipalities, the first opportunity to take into custody and remove an individual.  This will help to prevent the release of criminal illegal aliens into the custody of sanctuary cities. The Attorney General also announced that DOJ can take action against jurisdictions that falsely certify that they are in compliance with applicable Federal law. 8 USC 1373 requires local and state jurisdictions to share a criminal defendant's immigration status with federal authorities.

Congressman Culberson released the following statement after the hearing: 

“Sanctuary city policies across the country have contributed to the deaths of thousands of Americans and caused untold suffering. This is unacceptable and intolerable, and it has allowed thousands of criminal aliens to roam freely on American streets.

“On February 1, I wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch explaining that as the new chairman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, I believe local and state jurisdictions should not apply for federal money unless they comply with federal law. I asked Attorney General Lynch to change the federal grant application process to require state and local authorities to verify that they are in compliance with federal law, and if they are not, to deny their application.

“In response to my concerns, today the Attorney General announced that BOP will release criminal illegal aliens to ICE instead of sanctuary cities.  This is welcome news. If this had been BOP's policy last summer, Kate Steinle would be alive today. I am grateful Attorney General Lynch made this important change, and I look forward to receiving regular updates from the Department of Justice on the progress they are making implementing this new policy.

“Second, the Attorney General announced that DOJ can take action against jurisdictions receiving grants when they are not in compliance with Federal law.  If jurisdictions choose to implement sanctuary policies that prevent them from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, they are putting their federal grant money at risk unless they change their policy to comply with federal law.  The Attorney General promised to provide my subcommittee with quarterly reports on their progress on these two new policies, and I intend to zealously oversee their work. I will use every legislative tool at my disposal to help the Attorney General implement these new policies.

“The new policies the Department of Justice announced today will keep our streets safer by ensuring that criminal aliens do not roam freely in our communities, and prevent federal tax dollars from being sent to jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal immigration laws.

“I am very grateful to Attorney General Lynch for her leadership in making these vital changes which will save lives and make our streets much safer.”

Chairman Hal Rogers (KY-05) released the following statement after the hearing:

“I am encouraged by Attorney General Lynch’s announcement today, and I commend Chairman Culberson for working with the Department of Justice to get their commitment to stop any grant funding to jurisdictions that are in violation of applicable federal laws. This is a significant matter for a lot of us and I look forward to verifying DOJ’s progress each quarter.”

Read the full text of the Department of Justice’s letter here.

Read the full text of Rep. Culberson’s February 1 letter here.

Watch the clip of Rep. Culberson and Chairman Rogers questioning Attorney General Lynch here.

The full video of today’s hearing and text of Attorney General Lynch’s testimony is available here.

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