DOJ asks sanctuary cities to prove cooperation with immigration law

DOJ asks sanctuary cities to prove cooperation with immigration law

DOJ asks sanctuary cities to prove cooperation with immigration law

The Justice Department on Friday fired an opening shot in the Trump administration's crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities, sending letters to nine jurisdictions asking for proof that they are cooperating with immigration enforcement, and indicating they are at risk of losing federal grants.

"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future [Office of Justice] grants or subgrants, or other action, as appropriate", acting Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Harten wrote in letters to local officials. The same letter was sent to officials in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Cook County, Ill.

It is an extension of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' repeated threats to crack down on sanctuary communities by denying or stripping them of grant money.

"When people are afraid to report crimes or engage with law enforcement because of immigration status, the safety of our communities is placed at risk".

Earlier this week, Sessions accused sanctuary cities of undermining law enforcement efforts to fight transnational street gangs.

The report pointed to a Milwaukee County rule that immigration detention requests be honored only if the person has been convicted of one felony or two misdemeanors, has been charged with domestic violence or drunken driving, is a gang member, or is on a terrorist watch list, among other constraints.

"This grandstanding shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality".

"Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration", he said in a statement.

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Zach Butterworth, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's executive counsel and director of federal relations, said the city drafted its policies in consultation with federal immigration and Homeland Security officials.

Butterworth also says New Orleans police have no means or authority to enforce immigration laws or hold someone suspected of violating them.

The grants under threat-which amounted to roughly $24.5 million for Chicago past year, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, -go in most part to law enforcement efforts.

At a news conference, O'Neill said his "blood began to boil" when he read the feds' statement criticizing his department. To argue otherwise, as the U.S. Justice Department has done, "demonstrates a willful disregard of the facts", O'Neill said.

The administration again hinted at a line, without evidence, between undocumented immigrants and Chicago's crime rate.

"We don't think there's a problem", he said.

A number of sanctuary cities have sued over the executive order.

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