By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new federal memo over sanctuary cities puts millions of dollars in federal grant dollars at risk, while freeing up billions in federal funds tied to city services.

The memo, from the Justice Department, narrows the scope of President Trump’s executive order to defund sanctuary cities.

President Trump’s executive order to strip sanctuary cities of federal funds put 40 cities statewide at risk of losing billions of dollars for city services from health care to highway repairs.

But under a new Justice Department memo, the Trump administration is pulling back from that threat, after a federal judge’s ruling that it’s unconstitutional to force local jurisdictions to enforce immigration law by withholding funds.

“Sanctuary cities that do not collect immigration data, do not ask people their immigration status–because it’s not relevant or material — have nothing to worry about,” said civil rights attorney Luis Cespedes.

He chairs the Lawyers Advisory Committee to Sacramento’s Safe Haven Task Force. He says the move reinforces the city’s position to protect undocumented immigrants, free of intimidation from the Trump administration.

“This memorandum now states that the only money that might be at risk is very limited grant funds,” said Cespedes.

The memo states that cities that “willfully refuse to comply with federal law,” are still at risk of losing federal “grant money.”

“We’re not going to lose highway funds over sanctuary cities but could lose public safety money,” said Senator Joel Anderson.

State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) showed us a letter prepared by the state attorney general, listing over $40 million in federal grant awards that may be at risk for his department alone. Anderson says it’s money that could be used to fund public safety.

“We have 58 counties that receive federal grants and don’t know how much they’re receiving. We have city police, and task forces receiving federal grants, we don’t know what’s at risk,” said Anderson.

But Cespedes says the City of Sacramento has nothing to lose because, as a Sanctuary City, it is in compliance with federal law.

“We are winning this war,” said Cespedes.


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