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Sessions Gives Sanctuary Cities a Final Warning
12 October 2017, 11:19 | Erica Roy
Justice Department Gives "Sanctuary Cities" Final Warning on Immigrants
The U.S. Department of Justice, in separate letters to Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle penned Wednesday, highlights several active policies created to shield undocumented immigrants from being unduly targeted by law enforcement entities.
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.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the warning to officials in Cook County, Chicago and three other major cities this week, saying sanctuary laws in place within their jurisdictions may violate federal law and "undermine the safety of their residents".
A federal judge in Texas blocked the enforcement of a state "sanctuary cities" law in August. Though this rule is aimed at barring questions about immigrants' legal status, DOJ says it could be interpreted to bar NYPD members from requesting immigration info from federal immigration officers, which would be illegal.
The feds are giving what they call a "last chance" warning to NY that the city's immigrant-friendly policies may cost it federal grants.
An additional three policies also may not be in compliance, depending on the way Philadelphia applies them.
The Department of Justice is once again threatening to cut off funding for Philadelphia if the city maintains its sanctuary status.
Milwaukee County and the State of CT, which did not receive letters in the initial review, were also found to be compliant.
Sanctuary jurisdictions generally opt not to cooperate with federal agents by notifying them of the immigration status of people who have been detained in connection with criminal activity.
The five jurisdictions "have laws, policies, or practices" that may violate 8 US Code 1373, a federal statute concerning cooperation with federal immigration officials.
"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".
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.
The city has said its policies are legal, and vowed to sue if money is actually taken away.
The Department is, again, threatening to revoke a federal grant.
The Kenney administration received the letter Thursday and is still reviewing it, spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said.