The Justice Department (DOJ) sent a letter on Wednesday which threatened 23 jurisdictions nation wide that they would be subpoenaed if “they don’t turn over information about their sanctuary city policies toward illegal immigrants,” reports Fox News.
Among the cities were New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and other jurisdictions.
The DOJ demanded records relating to whether these ‘sanctuary cities’ are “unlawfully restricting information sharing by law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.”
“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions released in a statement. “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law.”
Bill de Blasio, New York City’s Mayor, apparently didn’t like this and said in a tweet:
“I will NOT be attending today’s meeting at the White House after @realDonaldTrump’s Department of Justice decided to renew their racist assault on our immigrant communities. It doesn’t make us safer and it violates America’s core values.”
Via Fox News: The letters state that jurisdictions that fail to respond will be subject to a DOJ subpoena.
“Sanctuary cities” is a phrase typically used to describe jurisdictions that restrict local law enforcement from sharing information with the federal government about the immigration status of those in custody.
“We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement—enough is enough,” Sessions said.
The demands listed by the DOJ in the letter requests for documents: “reflecting any orders, directives, instructions, or guidance to your law enforcement employees” about how to “communicate with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
Should these sanctuary cities fail to prove they are complying with federal law, federal funding could dry up for them and the DOJ could demand a refund for 2016’s federal funding some of the cities have already received.
“We’ve given them federal dollars – your taxpayer dollars – to cooperate with federal law enforcement,” Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the DOJ, said. “They didn’t have to take that money, but they did. And when they took it, they said they would comply with federal law. So what we’re saying is if we find out you’re not complying with federal law, we’re taking the tax dollars back.”
The administration, though, has faced setbacks over trying to withhold federal funds for sanctuary cities. A federal judge in Chicago ruled against Sessions in September; a judge in San Francisco also blocked President Trump’s executive order that denied federal funding to these cities.
“President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can’t grant himself new authority because he feels like it,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in November, after the city filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the president’s executive order.
The jurisdictions that received letters on Wednesday, according to the Justice Department: Chicago; Cook County, Ill; New York City; the state of California; Albany, N.Y.; Berkeley, Calif.; Bernalillo County, N.M.; Burlington, Vt.; the city and county of Denver, Colo.; Fremont, Calif.; Jackson, Miss.; King County, Wash.; Lawrence, Mass.; City of Los Angeles, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Monterey County, Calif.; Sacramento County, Calif.; the city and county of San Francisco; Sonoma County, Calif.; Watsonville, Calif.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; the state of Illinois and the state of Oregon.
Before this letter was drafted, all 23 jurisdictions had been previously contacted by the DOJ addressing this very issue.