Time’s up! Trump’s Justice Dept. issues final warning to ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions

Time’s up! Trump’s Justice Dept. issues final warning to ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions, Washington Times, October 12, 2017

FILE – In this April 14, 2017, file photo, protesters hold up signs outside a courthouse where a federal judge will hear arguments in the first lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order to withhold funding from communities that limit …

The Justice Department has issued a final warning to five of the 10 jurisdictions it accused of having “sanctuary” policies that defy federal immigration laws, saying they have until Oct. 27 to submit additional evidence proving compliance or risk losing grant money.

Letters conveying the Justice Department’s preliminary assessment of the jurisdictions’ local laws and policies were sent Wednesday. Cook County, Illinois; Chicago; New Orleans; New York City; and Philadelphia were all warned that the Justice Department believes they cities have laws or policies that run afoul of federal immigration law.

At stake is millions of dollars in federal grant money that is supposed to go only to jurisdictions that comply with section 1373 of Title 8 of the U.S. Code. That law prohibits policies that restrict communications with federal immigration authorities “regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

The letters sent to each city highlighted specific laws that the Justice Department has identified as being in violation of 1373.

In the case of Philadelphia, officials said an executive order that prevents local officials from providing immigration authorities with any notice of a person’s release from custody unless the person has been convicted of certain felony offenses is a violation. A police policy that prevents the transmission of the immigration status of any immigrant who is a victim of a crime was also highlighted as a violation.

Two other jurisdictions — Milwaukee County, Wisconsin and the state of Connecticut — were told Wednesday that a preliminary assessment found no evidence that their laws violated 1373.

“I commend the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and the State of Connecticut on their commitment to complying with Section 1373, and I urge all jurisdictions found to be out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373 but to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”

The Justice Department had earlier cleared Clark County, Nevada and Miami-Dade County of any violations of federal law.

Officials had also put the California Board of State and Community Corrections on notice, but the state was not included in the Justice Department’s follow up warning issued Wednesday. It was not immediately clear why it was not included.

The Obama administration first raised the issue of potential violations in 10 jurisdictions last year, and the Trump administration followed up by sending letters demanding proof of compliance.

“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,” Mr. Sessions said.

The jurisdictions accused of violating federal immigration statutes had previously defended their local policies, saying they were compliant and should not lose grant funding.

Philadelphia officials struck a defiant note, writing in a letter to the Justice Department that a local policy banning city officials from inquiring about residents’ immigration status does not violate federal law because if the city doesn’t have the information, its officials can’t be required to share it.

“The federal statute does not require cities to inquire about or collect immigration status information, but only prohibits cities from restricting the sharing of that information if they have it,” wrote City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante.

In the DOJ assessment, officials wrote that an executive order may be in violation of federal immigration law and city officials would have to certify that the policy does not ban local police from sharing information with federal immigration authorities with federal immigration officers.

“The Department has determined that Philadelphia would need to certify that it interprets and applies this Executive Order to not restrict Philadelphia officers from sharing information regarding immigration status,” DOJ officials wrote.

Explore posts in the same categories: Department of Justice, Illegal aliens, Law enforcement, Sanctuary cities

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