DOJ asks sanctuary cities to prove cooperation with immigration law

by Dwayne Torres April 22, 2017, 1:46
DOJ asks sanctuary cities to prove cooperation with immigration law

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill are lashing out after the the Trump administration intensified its threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities and claimed that New York City is "soft on crime".

"They're going to take our money".

The Justice Department is forcing nine communities to prove they are complying with an immigration law to continue receiving coveted law enforcement grant money.

The letters went to so-called "sanctuary cities" the DOJ's inspector general has previously said have rules that limit information available to USA immigration officials. It wasn't immediately clear what the city uses the funds for.

"We've gotten as much as $10 million a year in grants from the Department of Justice to help us combat the (serious) crime problem we have in New Orleans", Kennedy wrote in the letter.

Many of these localities say they do not have the funding or space to hold illegal immigrants until federal agents can apprehend them.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a White House briefing in March that local jurisdictions that apply for Justice Department grants will be required to certify they are in compliance, as was first required by an Obama administration policy put out last summer.

"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future [Justice Department] grants or subgrants, or other actions, as appropriate", Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson said in letters to the cities. The grant program is the leading source of federal justice funding to states and local communities.

"Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level", he said.

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That money go toward law enforcement, prosecution and court programs, according to the Justice Department.

Zach Butterworth, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's executive counsel and director of federal relations, said the city drafted its policies in consultation with federal immigration and Homeland Security officials. To argue otherwise, as the U.S. Justice Department has done, "demonstrates a willful disregard of the facts", O'Neill said. "I'd like to think of myself as a pretty calm and measured person.but when I read that statement by DOJ this afternoon, my blood began to boil", he said.

"People are scared, and because of that, they're less willing to report crime", Butterworth added.

Other places also insisted they were in compliance.

While murders and other violence are on the rise in some major cities, most scholars have concluded that crime remains near historic lows and that immigrants commit fewer crimes than USA -born citizens.

Police operate the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, where Lombardo said four jail guards are assigned to notify ICE when unsafe criminals are identified during booking.

Both the city and county support legal efforts challenging Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities.

A Justice Department statement accompanying the letters also claimed that illegal immigration into the U.S. has served to increase crime these cities.


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