Sessions gets Union League award in Philly, criticizes ‘sanctuary cities’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (right) receives the Lincoln Award from Union League President James P. Dunigan. Sessions was the keynote speaker at the Union League's Lincoln Day celebration. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (right) receives the Lincoln Award from Union League President James P. Dunigan. Sessions was the keynote speaker at the Union League's Lincoln Day celebration. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Philadelphia Monday to accept the Union League’s Lincoln Day Award.

In his remarks, Sessions took aim at “sanctuary cities,” including Philadelphia, which he said refuse to follow U.S. rules regarding illegal immigration.

“We’ve seen jurisdictions around the country attempt to nullify federal immigration law under so-called sanctuary policies. One hears activists and officials talk of, amazingly, of nullification and secession,” he said. “Let them come to the Union League or Gettysburg if they want a historical lesson on those subjects.”

Mayor Jim Kenney has steadfastly maintained — and a federal judge has agreed — that Philadelphia is in compliance with the law. In November, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson ruled that the Department of Justice cannot deny Philadelphia public safety grants for not fully cooperating with immigration authorities.

Sessions Monday also criticized judges who are blocking President Donald Trump’s executive orders.

“There had never been a nationwide injunction before the 1960s. Now we at DOJ are steadfastly defending against 19 nationwide injunctions that have leveled against this administration in just one year,” he said. “And we are going to win most of them.”

Sessions thanked the Union League for honoring him with the award.

“I was honored and humbled by your invitation to receive the Lincoln Award — especially considering some who have received it before, like my former boss Pennsylvania Gov. and U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, Justices Thomas and Alito — truly great justices —  and many others,” he said. “I am truly honored.”

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