Justice Department Warns 4 Cities Over 'Sanctuary' Policies

13 October, 2017, 00:09 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Jeff Sessions gives ‘last chance’ warning to so-called ‘sanctuary cities

The city of Philadelphia received a letter from the Justice Department on Thursday rejecting the city's argument that its policies toward Immigration Enforcement do not violate federal law.

The section Sessions references, Section 1373, is a federal statute barring local and state governments from limiting communication regarding residents' immigration or citizenship status with federal officials.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the cities still in the department's crosshairs "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".

The cities of New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans are also out of compliance with federal law, according to the DOJ.

A federal law known by the shorthand 1373 requires local police to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally for several days until investigators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement can intervene, even if the crime they're accused of is minor, or no charges are filed.

It comes after suggestions from Washington that New Orleans was a so-called "sanctuary city" that attempted to shield illegal immigrants from federal enforcement.

Additionally, the Justice Department said subsequent investigations found Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Clark County, Nev., where Las Vegas is located, were already in accordance with federal immigration law, though previously they had been listed otherwise.

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.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson notified Mayor Jim Kenney that Philly stands in violation.

Milwaukee County and the State of CT, which did not receive letters in the initial review, were also found to be compliant.

The latest salvo from the Trump administration does not specify why exactly it asserts the city and county are in violation, but gives them until October 27 to prove otherwise before the Justice Department reaches "its final determination" on the matter. Critics have dubbed such places "sanctuary cities".

Chicago and Cook County have until October 27 to submit a response before the DOJ makes its final determination.

Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, long outspoken in support of hardline immigration policies, left his post in August to become a top advisor to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.

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