The Department of Justice on Friday put at least nine “sanctuary” jurisdictions on notice should they fail to comply with federal laws that require them to communicate with federal officials in the detainment of illegal aliens.
The letter from the Justice Department warns the sanctuary cities that not adhering to federal law could result in losing certain federal grants if they are found to be in violation of agreements.
Statute 8 USC § 1373 prohibits local and state governments from enacting laws or policies that limit communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement [and] Customs and Border Protection about “information regarding … immigration or citizenship status.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson stated in the letter that the Justice Department “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.”
“Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future … grants, or other action, as appropriate,” Hanson wrote.
In a statement that accompanied the letters to sanctuary cities, the Justice Department added: “Many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime,” in reference to the increasing murder rates in some major cities across the United States.
The jurisdictions to which the letters were sent included Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, New York City, and Cook County.
The Washington Examiner reports that many of the areas targeted maintain they are not in violation of the federal statute because it does not require compliance with ICE requests, such as detainers or requests for notification of release dates. They argue the statute only prohibits the enactment of certain policies about sharing immigration status, which the cities claim they do not do.
Attorney General Sessions told MSNBC reporters on Friday that most “sanctuary” cities are cooperating. “We’re pleading with the cities, ‘Let’s don’t have a fight over this.’ So, I hope we don’t end in a fight, but we’re perfectly willing to do whatever [we] can to ensure that we have the kind of unified effort that protects America.”
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