What Sessions Federal Funding Move Means for Minnesota

The decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities could mean the loss of millions for Minnesota communities.  

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)(Credit: AP

WASHINGTON — Sanctuary cities in Minnesota could find themselves short millions of dollars under a new mandate handed down by members of the Trump administration.

On Monday, in a surprise announcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held an impromptu press conference during Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s daily press briefing at the White House, announcing that the Justice Department (DOJ) would withhold grants from state and local governments certified as sanctuary cities.

“Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets,” Sessions said.

Sessions announced local and state governments would have to prove their compliance with federal immigration law in order to receive funds from the Office of Justice Programs.

According to Politico, Minnesota is home to several local governments that claim the sanctuary city identity, including Minneapolis and St. Paul.

However, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman denies the sanctuary city moniker.

In November 2016, Coleman wrote an op-ed in the Pioneer Press stating, “the city of St. Paul does not provide safe harbor for criminals.” The op-ed rings similar to statements made by Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who came under fire after a Department of Homeland Security report accused him of denying ICE waivers.

St. Paul, which has a proposed budget of $561 million for 2017, does receive federal funding from the DOJ, but the exact amount is unknown. The Office of Justice Programs was unavailable for comment.

Minneapolis, which adopted a $1.5 billion budget in February 2017, would lose approximately $1 million annually from DOJ grants according to a city official.

The DOJ funds are directed towards law enforcement, though the type of grant given to Minneapolis is unknown. In 2016, Minneapolis approved $220 million for Minneapolis Police and Fire, approximately 17 percent of the total budget. In 2017, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ proposed budget included an additional $5.2 million boost to the police budget or a three percent increase.

According to The Hill, Sessions’ decision to pull funding is well within the law, as President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would grant the administration the right to limit funding and grants to sanctuary cities.


Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.