The Trump administration just toughened its crackdown on 'sanctuary cities'

Attorney General Jeff Sessions toughened his crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" on Tuesday, announcing that certain grant programs for cities and states would be conditional on whether local officials allow immigration agents access to local jails.

Starting in the fiscal year 2017, jurisdictions must allow immigration officers into detention facilities and provide 48-hours' notice before releasing an inmate who is wanted by immigration agents in order to be eligible for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants.

"So-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes," Sessions said in a statement.

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Sanctuary Cities in the USA
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Sanctuary Cities in the USA

Washington, DC

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New York City, New York

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Jersey City, New Jersey

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Los Angeles, California

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

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San Francisco, California

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San Diego, California

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San Jose, California

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Oakland, California

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Salt Lake City, Utah

(Photo: Kenneth C. Zirkel)

Houston, Texas

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Detroit, Michigan 

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Chicago, Illinois 

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Minneapolis, Minnesota 

(Photo: Rudy Balasko)

Denver, Colorado

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Baltimore, Maryland

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Seattle, Washington

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Portland, Oregon

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New Haven, Connecticut 

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Cambridge, Massachusetts

(Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL)

Portland, Maine

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"These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law."

Sessions cited an incident that happened in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, in which 10 undocumented immigrants died after being transported in a sweltering tractor-trailer across Texas in an alleged human-smuggling case. Some Republicans have attributed the deaths to cities with "sanctuary" policies they say "entice" immigrants into crossing the border illegally.

Sessions' announcement on Tuesday marks a significant escalation in the Trump administration's approach to "sanctuary" jurisdictions, which implement a variety of policies that limit their police departments and jails' cooperation with federal immigration authorities. For instance, many cities opt not to honor federal requests to detain immigrants in jails unless the requests are accompanied by judge-signed warrants.

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Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions
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Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) joins President Donald Trump (L) for an opioid and drug abuse listening session at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump speaks with Attorney General Jeff Sessions as they attend the National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions speaks next to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally at Madison City Schools Stadium in Madison, Alabama February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Marvin Gentry
U.S. President Donald Trump watches as Vice President Mike Pence (R) swears in Jeff Sessions (L) as U.S. Attorney General while his wife Mary Sessions holds the Bible in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 28: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., left, endorses Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee for president during a campaign rally at Madison City Schools Stadium in Madison, Ala., February 28, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump congratulates Jeff Sessions after he was sworn in as U.S. Attorney General as his wife Mary Sessions looks on during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sits with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (L) and retired U.S. Army General Keith Kellogg (R) during a national security meeting with advisors at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a swearing-in ceremony for new Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Under a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson, U.S. President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Jeff Sessions after he was sworn in as U.S. Attorney General during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump reaches out toward Attorney General Jeff Sessions as they attend the National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US President-elect Donald Trump (C) talks with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (2nd L) and US Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions (L) as he arrives in Mobile, Alabama, for a 'Thank You Tour 2016' rally on December 17, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
MOBILE, AL - DECEMBER 17: President-elect Donald Trump greets Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump's picks for attorney general, during a thank you rally in Ladd-Peebles Stadium on December 17, 2016 in Mobile, Alabama. President-elect Trump has been visiting several states that he won, to thank people for their support during the U.S. election. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump watches as Vice President Mike Pence (R) swears in Jeff Sessions (L) as U.S. Attorney General while his wife Mary Sessions holds the Bible in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
MOBILE, AL- AUGUST 21: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump introduces Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) Mobile during his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. The Donald Trump campaign moved tonight's rally to a larger stadium to accommodate demand. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump congratulates Jeff Sessions after he was sworn in as U.S. Attorney General as his wife Mary Sessions looks on during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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Previously, Sessions had only required that localities abide by the federal statute 8 USC 1373, which only requires that local officials not interfere with the exchange of information regarding people's citizenship or immigration status. But many "sanctuary cities" had argued that they already complied with that statute.

Sessions' critics have argued that his crusade against "sanctuary" policies will push undocumented communities further into the shadows, discouraging immigrants from reporting crimes committed against them out of fear they will be deported.

The move also comes as Sessions faces increasing public criticism from President Donald Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation. Trump has now said multiple times he would not have nominated Sessions as attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself, prompting speculation over whether Sessions would resign.

Sessions, however, has said he will remain in the position "as long as that is appropriate."

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See Also:

SEE ALSO: The botched Texas smuggling operation that killed 10 has become a flashpoint for the immigration debate

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