Justice Department Sets June 30 Deadline for Compliance From 'Sanctuary Cities'
Prepare for an immigration showdown between the Trump administration and local and state governments this summer. On Friday, the Justice Department sent letters to nine jurisdictions, or “sanctuary cities,” with an ultimatum: Cooperate with federal immigration authorities or lose federal funding for law enforcement.
Cooperation means local officials must provide proof by June 30 that they are abiding by Section 1373 of federal law, disclosing information on a person’s immigration status to federal immigration officials.
Letter recipients are the California Board of State and Community Corrections, Cook County, Ill., and the following cities: Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York City and Philadelphia.
Here is the Justice Department statement:
Today, the Department of Justice sent the attached letters to nine jurisdictions which were identified in a May 2016 report by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General as having laws that potentially violate 8 U.S.C. § 1373.
Additionally, many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime. The number of murders in Chicago has skyrocketed, rising more than 50 percent from the 2015 levels. New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s “soft on crime” stance. And just several weeks ago in California’s Bay Area, after a raid captured 11 MS-13 members on charges including murder, extortion and drug trafficking, city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next.
The letters remind the recipient jurisdictions that, as a condition for receiving certain financial year 2016 funding from the Department of Justice, each of these jurisdictions agreed to provide documentation and an opinion from legal counsel validating that they are in compliance with Section 1373. The Department of Justice expects each of these jurisdictions to comply with this grant condition and to submit all documentation to the Office of Justice Programs by June 30, 2017, the deadline imposed by the grant agreement.
According to the Los Angeles Times, California is ready to fight.
California officials reacted with defiance Friday, promising to double efforts to guard the state’s policies in the face of the implied threat to cut the funds.
“It has become abundantly clear” that Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration “are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy — not American values,” Senate leader Kevin de León said in a statement.
“Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level,” he added.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said the state will defend its policies against “fearmongering” by the Trump administration.
“Federal threats to take away resources from law enforcement or our people in an attempt to bully states and localities into carrying out the new administration’s unsound deportation plan are reckless and jeopardize public safety,” he said in a statement.
The emerging dispute between communities and the Trump administration is already in the courts, and the letters may bolster the administration’s case.
President Trump repeatedly vowed to cut all federal funds to sanctuary cities during last year’s campaign, but it’s highly doubtful Congress would permit that. Thus far the administration has only threatened to cut off grants administered by the Justice Department.
The actual amount at risk is relatively small — a total of $4.1 billion in federal grants to governments and law enforcement agencies across the country, and far less to the nine jurisdictions named Friday.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also vowed to challenge any attempts to strip funding, The New York Times reports.
“We did not become the safest big city in America by being ‘soft on crime,’ ” de Blasio said. “This is an insult, this statement.”
Read all nine letters below.
—Posted by Eric Ortiz