Justice Department Gives "Sanctuary Cities" Final Warning on Immigrants

Sessions calls for crackdown on asylum policies

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The United States Justice Department singled out four cities and a county on Thursday for allegedly having so-called "sanctuary policies" that may violate a federal law that says local governments can not limit information sharing with US immigration officials.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in separate letters to Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle penned Wednesday, highlights several active policies created to shield undocumented immigrants from being unduly targeted by law enforcement entities.

The jurisdictions have until October 27 to show they don't have any codes or policies preventing local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Federal and local officials have battled over sanctuary city protections not only as a matter of law, but one of finance: The Trump administration has threatened to deny uncooperative cities funding from Washington if they don't comply.

Offending cities and states stand to lose money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (or JAG grant), which provided Philadelphia with $1.6 million in 2016 to spend on police overtime, training, equipment, courtroom technology and other aspects of the criminal justice system.

They are: Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia and Cook County, Ill.

The Justice Department also found Chicago, New Orleans, New York City and Cook County, Illinois, to be in violation.

"Jurisdictions that adopt so-called "sanctuary policies" also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

DOJ says this appears to violate the federal law's provision that local governments may not restrict the sharing of information with federal authorities about immigration or citizenship status.

Several U.S. cities and counties passed local laws or enacted procedures that prohibit law enforcement from notifying Homeland Security when an undocumented immigrant is identified or arrested. Though this rule is aimed at barring questions about immigrants' legal status, DOJ says it could be interpreted to bar NYPD members from requesting immigration info from federal immigration officers, which would be illegal.

Kenney has been an ardent supporter of Philadelphia's "sanctuary city" policies.

City solicitor Sozi Tulante responded that the city does share information, but that information doesn't include immigration status, because the city doesn't ask for it.

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