Early this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will grant $98 million to police departments across the nation, Buzzfeed News reports. Preferential treatment will be given to the 80 percent of recipients that have agreed to allow federal immigration officers inside of local jails and to those that have promised to report illegal immigrants to federal authorities. 

This new initiative is part of a larger effort by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to crack down on both illegal immigration and to punish sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration manhunts.

The $98 million is part of the DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring program, and will be used to by 179 departments to hire 802 new police officers.

The move marks a stark about-face from the Obama-era, when the DOJ's community policing office worked towards building trust between police departments and the communities they serve, in part by reforming police departments. Under Sessions, that office has stressed fighting violent crime, finding ways to track down illegal immigrants and has dismissed police reform as unnecessary. 

Ron Davis, former director of the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services under Obama, told Buzzfeed that coercing local police into running immigration enforcement programs runs "counter to the philosophy of community policing."

Davis added that Sessions' grant "makes communities less safe, because people will be afraid to report crime in fear of deportation."

Sessions, of course, disagrees with that assessment.

“Cities and states that cooperate with federal law enforcement make all of us safer by helping remove dangerous criminals from our communities,” Sessions said.