A White House spokesman on Friday renewed the administration’s warning that sanctuary cities such as Chicago could lose millions of dollars in federal law-enforcement grants, saying many people who are here illegally are committing crimes and are gang members.
Sean Spicer also implied that officials in sanctuary cities such as Chicago have no business expecting more money for law enforcement, since those cities are “allowing people to come into the country who are breaking the law, who in many cases are committing crimes.”
Spicer’s comments came during the daily press briefing at the White House.
The president finds it “unacceptable” that some localities “have prioritized a political agenda over the safety of their people by flouting our nation’s immigrations laws, becoming so-called sanctuary cities,” Spicer said. “The failure to follow federal law can have tragic consequences for all of our citizens in all of our country.”
Spicer called it “particularly concerning” in places such as Chicago and Philadelphia hit by increased violence.
“Immigrants, both legal and illegal, are not safe when criminals who have committed egregious acts are free to roam the streets,” he said.
A reporter for WBBM-Ch. 2 in Chicago asked Spicer if Trump would cut off the funds even though it would hamper Chicago police in their fight against street violence. The reporter noted the president has repeatedly highlighted the city’s crime problem.
“I think it would be interesting to want to send more money to a city that is allowing people to come into the country who are breaking the law, who in many cases are committing crimes, (members) of gangs,” Spicer responded.
“You can’t be a sanctuary city and at the same time … express concern about law enforcement or ask for more money, when probably a number of the funds that you’re using in the first place are going to law enforcement to handle the situation that you’ve created for yourself.”
“We shouldn’t be using American tax dollars to fund cities and counties … that are seeking to allow people who are not legally in this country, who potentially could do us harm, to get funding,” Spicer said.
The WBBM reporter then asked whether Trump was more concerned with deporting illegal immigrants than putting shooters and killers in jail.
Spicer said no. “If you have people who are in this country illegally that are part of a gang … they’re committing a threat to public safety or committing the crime, then funding that activity and allowing that to fester is in itself a problem,” he said.
“And so, by not rooting that out in the first place is allowing the problem to continue, and not exactly showing an attempt to solve it in the first place.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that the Justice Department planned to award $4.1 billion in grants this year through its Office of Justice Programs and the Community Oriented Policing Services program, but sanctuary cities risked having the funds taken away or denied.
A Justice Department spokesman, asked Friday how much the Chicago Police Department received in such funding, did not provide a response.
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