Politics Justice Dept threatens sanctuary cities in immigration fight

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

After errors, ICE suspends reports designed to embarrass 'sanctuary' cities

  After errors, ICE suspends reports designed to embarrass 'sanctuary' cities Immigration and Customs Enforcement is suspending a recently adopted practice of reporting cities that don't cooperate with federal detention efforts after the first few reports were plagued by errors.The new policy, an attempt to pressure cities and counties that refuse to hold people in the country illegally for immigration agents, was a priority for President Donald Trump. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to push back against these "sanctuary cities," possibly by denying them federal funds and using other methods of pressure.

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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.

Lawyer: Little money involved in Trump sanctuary order

  Lawyer: Little money involved in Trump sanctuary order President Donald Trump's executive order withholding funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities applies to a small pot of grant money, not the billions of dollars that San Francisco and a California county say is at stake for them, a lawyer with the Department of Justice said Friday.Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler made the comments during a court hearing on lawsuits filed by the city of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley county of Santa Clara against Trump's order targeting so-called sanctuary cities.

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.

' Sanctuary ' cities fight back as Trump pulls their funding, kickstarts Mexican border wall. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened on Monday to cut off U.S. Justice Department grants to cities that fail to assist federal immigration authorities, moving the Trump administration closer to a potential

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.

A multimillion-dollar question: What's a 'sanctuary city?' .
Donald Trump vowed throughout his presidential campaign to punish "sanctuary cities" that fail to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities. That's a multimillion-dollar question.

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