Politics Justice Dept threatens sanctuary cities in immigration fight

20:55  21 april  2017
20:55  21 april  2017 Source:   Associated Press

Sanctuary City mayors fire back at DOJ over criticism

  Sanctuary City mayors fire back at DOJ over criticism "We've seen the letter from DOJ. Neither the facts nor the law are on their side.""If anybody in the Trump administration would actually do some research before firing off letters, they would see that the city of New Orleans has already provided the Department of Justice documentation that shows we are in compliance with federal immigration laws," Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, said in a statement according to CNN.

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Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of .1 billion available in grant money to verify that they are in compliance with a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration officials.

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2017 file photo, a woman holds a sign at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco. The Trump administration is moving beyond rhetoric in its effort to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The Justice Department is forcing nine communities to prove they are complying with an immigration law to continue receiving coveted law enforcement grant money. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File): A woman holds a sign at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco in January. © The Associated Press A woman holds a sign at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco in January.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration intensified its effort to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, sending letters on Friday to nine jurisdictions threatening to withhold grant money unless they document cooperation.

The letters went to officials in California and in major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department's inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.

Sessions praises NY's criminal justice efforts amid 'soft on crime' spat

  Sessions praises NY's criminal justice efforts amid 'soft on crime' spat "New York has done some great things in criminal justice.""I would say this about New York - New York has done some great things in criminal justice. They are following policies that have proven to reduce crime in America," Sessions said during a press conference touring the border in San Diego.

But critics of sanctuary cities , like Trump, say these policies run contrary to federal immigration law and risk releasing criminals onto the streets. Justice Department funding, the most vulnerable to attack, amounted to about .4 million last year.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increasingly warned the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.

In a statement Friday, the Justice Department said the recipients of its letters are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime."

The letters warn officials they must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law or risk losing thousands of dollars in federal grant money that police agencies use to fund anything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.

"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future O.J.P. grants or subgrants, or other action, as appropriate," wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs, which administers the grant program. It's the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.

Cities have resisted the Trump administration's threats. Seattle, not one of the places targeted with a letter, and other jurisdictions have sued the Trump administration over the sanctuary issue.

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

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<p>President Trump has emerged as the wildcard as congressional leaders clamber to reach agreement on a package to keep the government funded and prevent a shutdown.</p>Republican leaders are keenly aware which "poison pill" provisions are non-starters with the Democrats, whose votes will be needed to send a spending bill to the president.

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