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Christie dares NJ sanctuary cities to risk losing federal funds

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Gov. Chris Christie told the mayors of the state’s two largest cities to “have at it” by declaring themselves “sanctuary” cities after the Trump administration once again threatened to cut federal funding.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said such cities — which refuse to use municipal resources to enforce federal immigration laws — risk losing grants that already have been awarded.

“People should just comply with the law,” Christie said Monday during his monthly appearance on New Jersey 101.5’s “Ask The Governor.”

After Trump signed an executive order in January that would defund cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities, Christie advised municipalities to take Trump at his word.

Christie also has vowed to veto any measure that would use state dollars to reimburse sanctuary cities for lost federal funds.

On Monday he called Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka by name.

“If they engage in voluntary conduct — which means sanctuary city is not mandated by the state; it’s voluntary conduct — then they think it’s important enough for their taxpayers to pick up the tab. Their call.

“Mayor Fulop, Mayor Baraka — have at it.”

There is no official definition of a sanctuary cities, but such municipalities often adopt policies that prevent police and local agencies from inquiring about people’s immigration status. Officials say residents will be reluctant to come forward to report crimes and cooperate with investigations if they fear deportation.

Sessions on Monday did not release further details on how the federal government would go about cutting funds to local jurisdictions.

Last year, the Office of Justice Programs made nearly 3,000 grants totaling $3.9 billion to cities, counties, states and other local governments, the Associated Press reported.

Sessions said cities will have to show that they are in compliance before applying for $4.1 billion in grant money held by the Justice Department.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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