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Philadelphia sues Jeff Sessions over effort to end sanctuary city policies

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at The Columbus Police Academy on August 2, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. The city of Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit against Sessions for the Trump administration’s effort to withhold grant money from local governments to prevent so-called sanctuary cities. (Maddie McGarvey/Getty Images)

The city of Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the Trump administration’s effort to withhold grant money from local governments to prevent so-called sanctuary cities, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

KYW-TV reported Sessions announced last month that cities seeking Justice Assistance grants would have to meet new conditions in addition to certifying that they co-operate with immigration authorities: They must notify federal immigration agents 48 hours before releasing certain prisoners, and they must give those agents access to city prisons to interview inmates.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney office called the new conditions unlawful.

Kenney said in a written statement that the “unprecedented grant conditions are purely political.”

“The Trump administration claims that it is imposing these to keep Philadelphians safer, but the facts don’t lie,” Kenney said. “Philadelphia isn’t breaking federal law. We’re doing smart policing and, as a result, we had the lowest level of crime in 2016 that we’ve had in 40 years. We will not let this Administration interfere with our longstanding efforts to bring members of Philadelphia’s immigrant community from the shadows.”

The mayor’s office said Philadelphia received $1.6 million from the JAG program last year, and has received an average of $2.2 million from the grant program over the last eleven years. The money, it said, is used to strengthen the city’s criminal justice system.

The Hill reported that Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have also sued the federal government over the new grant conditions.

Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, told TheBlaze in a written statement, “When criminal aliens are returned to the streets instead of sent home, public safety is undermined."

"Murder rates are on the rise in Philadelphia, but today the City joined other jurisdictions in doing a disservice to their citizens by protecting criminal aliens rather than law-abiding citizens,” O’Malley said.

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