PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --The Trump administration is continuing its tough talk against "sanctuary cities," which shelter people living in the country illegally by refusing to help the federal government enforce immigration laws.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was "urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws" during the White House press briefing on Monday.
He says the Justice Department will require compliance with immigration laws in order for the cities to receive grants through the Office of Justice Programs. The Obama administration had a similar policy in place.
President Trump had said during the campaign that he would "defund" sanctuary cities by taking away their federal funding.
But legal precedent suggests that would have been difficult to do.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has taken a defiant stand on this issue since Donald Trump won the White House.
Ironically, the mayor was presiding over the kickoff of 'Immigrant Business Week,' aimed at celebrating the thousands of immigrant owned businesses in Philadelphia, on Monday afternoon.
The mayor says it looks, to him, like the Sessions announcement is timed to distract the public from investigation of the White House's possible connections to Russia and other issues.
"Obviously the thumping that they took on health care brings them back to an area where they feel comfortable being divisive about and being bullies about, and that's their style," said Kenney.
One of the participants at the business session meeting says claims that undocumented immigrants increase the crime rate are false.
"We know, and everyone's talking about, how much of the contributions our immigrants are making. What we are also hearing from officials and local officials in Philadelphia that sanctuary cities does not necessarily mean protecting criminals," said Eric Edi of the Coalition of African Communities.
"When presented with a criminal warrant, we will turn anybody over. But we are not going to hold people against their will without charge. That is the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution, and I'd hope Attorney General Sessions would understand what the fourth amendment means," Kenney said.
Kenney said he and other mayors are prepared to go to court over this issue. That was no word on how much federal funding could be at stake.