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13 October 2017, 12:07 | Darnell Patrick
Justice Dept. gives NYC 'last chance' to end 'sanctuary policies' on immigration, threatens to pull police grants
The Department of Justice sternly warned a group of major cities Thursday that they remain in violation of so-called "sanctuary city" laws that shield undocumented immigrants from being reported to the feds.
A letter from the Justice Department released Thursday said officials believe NY is violating a law requiring cooperation on immigration enforcement. They have until October 27 to show they're in compliance. The city's lawsuit is over whether the Justice Department has the power to withhold Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants from governments that don't cooperate with immigration agents in trying to identify and possibly deport people in the US illegally.
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.
"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", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. U.S.C. 1373 - states that a federal, state or local government entity can not restrict any government entity from "sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual".
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.
"I commend the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and the State of CT on their commitment to complying with Section 1373", Sessions said, "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".
Seth Stein, a spokesman for New York City, said the mayor's office was "prepared to fight to protect critical public safety funding".
The DOJ says Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans and New York City fit that description.
The city has said its policies are legal, and vowed to sue if money is actually taken away.
The city has two weeks to write back to the Department.
The policies violate a federal immigration statute that prohibits municipalities from restricting communications between government agencies and federal immigration authorities who seek the immigration status of an individual, according to the DOJ. Requiring New Orleans Police to demand information about immigration status, local officials argued, would only lead to immigrants fearing and mistrusting police, rather than cooperating with them.
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