U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday criticized sanctuary cities that try to protect immigrants in the country illegally as places that "undermine the moral authority of the law."
He made the comments a day after the Trump administration appealed a judge's ruling blocking its efforts to withhold money from the cities, reports the Associated Press.
Sessions, speaking to law enforcement officers in a sanctuary city in the sanctuary state of Oregon, urged officials who have decided that local police should not cooperate with federal immigration agents to reconsider those policies.
As he spoke, protesters lined the streets outside the Portland field office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Their chants could faintly be heard inside the room where Sessions appeared.
Sessions said the federal grant money that U.S. cities receive are not an entitlement, and cannot be given to sanctuary cities that he said frustrate efforts to reduce crime.
"Rather than reconsider their policies, these sanctuary jurisdictions feign outrage when they lose federal funds as a direct result of actions designed to nullify plain federal law," Sessions said.