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Attorney General Sessions Lauds Miami, Lambastes Chicago On Immigration

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (center) arriving at PortMiami Wednesday with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez (left).
Pedro Portal
Miami Herald
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (center) arriving at PortMiami Wednesday with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez (left).

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Miami-Dade County on Wednesday to thank it for helping the feds deport undocumented immigrants. But experts say his claims about crime in cities that don’t cooperate – so-called “sanctuary cities” – are exaggerated.

This year President Trump ordered local governments to comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who’ve been arrested. He warned sanctuary cities they would lose federal law enforcement funding if they didn't.

Fearing the loss of more than $300 million in federal grants, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez made his government the first to cooperate. In a speech at PortMiami, Sessions thanked Gimenez (while mispronouncing his last name).

“To all sanctuary jurisdictions across this country I say: Miami-Dade is doing it, other cities are doing it, and so can you," Sessions said. "Work with us. Please help us enforce a lawful system of immigration.”

To reinforce the message, President Trump tweeted at @MayorGimenez at 10:55 pm of Wednesday, August 16 thanking him and emphasizing that "sanctuary cities make our country less safe!"

If this was a speech about Miami, Sessions spent most of it blasting sanctuary cities like Chicago, which recently sued the Justice Department over this issue.

Sessions recited violent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in those cities. And he repeated his controversial claim that those cities have higher violent crime rates and gang activity.

“Respect for the rule of law has broken down," he said. "In Chicago, I suggest the so-called sanctuary policies are one sad example.”

Sessions has based that claim on a University of California-Riverside study. But the study’s authors insist Sessions misread their research – and they deny any correlation between sanctuary cities and high crime rates.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.
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