Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan went to Miami on Wednesday to praise Miami-Dade County’s reversal of so-called sanctuary policies.
Miami had been considered a “sanctuary” since 2013, the Miami Herald reported. But the county reversed its policy earlier this year after the Trump administration threatened to withhold funding from sanctuary cities. According to the newspaper, 143 individuals have been turned over to immigration officials since then.
Even though the even was ostensibly a celebration, Sessions and Homan still spent a great deal of time focused on a different city entirely: Chicago, which is currently suing the Justice Department.
In his remarks, Sessions called sanctuary cities like Chicago “a trafficker, smuggler, or predator’s best friend.”
He also listed a number of crimes in Chicago that were allegedly perpetrated by undocumented immigrants that he believed could have been prevented if the city did not have a sanctuary policy.
“These policies of sanctuary cities do far broader damage to the country than many understand. At its root, it is a rejection of our immigration laws and a declaration of open borders,” he said. “It says if you enter the country last week with a criminal record and get to Chicago, we will not even support deporting you even after you commit a serious crime against one of our citizens. This is lawlessness.”
Protesters outside the event held signs that addressed both the meeting at hand (“ICE OUT OF MIAMI” and “SHAME ON SESSIONS”) and the news of the week (“TRUMP IS A NAZI SYMPATHIZER a #IMPEACHTRUMP”).
Speaking of current events, Sessions did attempt to briefly address the horrific events in Charlottesville, the home to a white supremacist rally in Virginia, but instead he accidentally reflected on Charlotte, a city in North Carolina.
“We’ve had a tough weekend in Charlotte,” he said. “I know you’ve all been following that. I want to thank the state and local and federal people who have worked since those tragic events there.”
He added: “In no way can we accept or apologize for racism, bigotry, hatred, violence and those kind of things that too often arise in our country.”