Sessions: Four sanctuary cities could be breaking law

  • Attorney General says four of the largest cities in the nation have 'sanctuary city' policies which could violate federal law 
  • Jeff Sessions says they have until October 27 to show that they are complying with statute about information sharing with immigration authorities
  • Sessions could cut federal funds for law enforcement if they do not comply 
  • Dramatic move sets up showdown with ultra-liberal mayor of new York Bill de Blasio and Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's ex-chief of staff 

By Reuters

Published: 11:25 EDT, 12 October 2017 | Updated: 19:11 EDT, 12 October 2017

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 cannot limit information sharing with U.S. immigration officials.

The department said New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and Cook County in Illinois along with its largest city Chicago, 'have preliminarily been found' to have policies that violate the law.

It is giving those jurisdictions until October 27 to provide evidence demonstrating compliance.

If the government finds the cities and county are violating the statute that calls for information sharing with federal immigration officials, it says it could decide to cut federal funds for law enforcement.

Tough talk: 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.'
Tough talk: 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.'

Tough talk: 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.'

Cuts: Federal funding for law enforcement could be reduced by Sessions. Among the New York Police Department's duties have been guarding Trump Tower
Cuts: Federal funding for law enforcement could be reduced by Sessions. Among the New York Police Department's duties have been guarding Trump Tower

Cuts: Federal funding for law enforcement could be reduced by Sessions. Among the New York Police Department's duties have been guarding Trump Tower

The Justice Department said it had found no evidence that four other jurisdictions - Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Clark County, Nevada, Miami-Dade County, Florida and the State of Connecticut - were in violation of the statue, known as Section 1373.

The determinations came after the Justice Department earlier in the year had asked several local jurisdictions to detail their compliance with the law in order to make a determination about their eligibility for certain federal grants.

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.'

It sets up a showdown between the Trump administration and a group of Democratic mayors who include New York's ultra-liberal Bill de Blasio. 

Other mayors in the group include Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff to Barack Obama. 

The sanctuary jurisdictions say they are following the law, which says local authorities cannot prevent information exchange with federal immigration agents about people's immigration status.

The Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu and the superintendent of the police department said the city was in 'full compliance' with the statute but added that they would 'not be the federal government's deportation force.'

Collision course: New York's Bill de Blasio and Chicago's Rahm Emanuel are now in the DoJ's crosshairs
Collision course: New York's Bill de Blasio and Chicago's Rahm Emanuel are now in the DoJ's crosshairs
Collision course: New York's Bill de Blasio and Chicago's Rahm Emanuel are now in the DoJ's crosshairs
Collision course: New York's Bill de Blasio and Chicago's Rahm Emanuel are now in the DoJ's crosshairs

Collision course: New York's Bill de Blasio and Chicago's Rahm Emanuel are now in the DoJ's crosshairs

Seth Stein, a spokesman for New York City, said the mayor's office was 'prepared to fight to protect critical public safety funding.'

Some of the disputes concern the jurisdictions' compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 'detainer' requests, sent to local authorities when ICE wants to hold people in custody up to 48 hours and beyond when they are supposed to be released so that immigration officials can pick them up.

Some cities say they will only honor detainers accompanied by criminal warrants, and that compliance with the requests is voluntary and not required under the statute.

Chicago sued the federal government in August over the threats of funding cuts being made by Justice Department. A federal judge sided with the city last month and issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. government from denying public-safety grants.

In a separate case filed by several cities and counties in California, the Justice Department in a June filing acknowledged that immigration detainer requests are voluntary, and that Sessions had not said that non-compliance with detainer requests would count as a breach of Section 1373.


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