Justice Department Sets Deadline for Sanctuary Cities

Jeff Sessions gives ‘last chance’ warning to so-called ‘sanctuary cities

Justice Department Sets Deadline for Sanctuary Cities

At least two Philadelphia policies aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants violate federal law, according to a preliminary assessment conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sessions, in a statement accompanying the warnings, said "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". In a letter dated Wednesday, Hanson noted that the city's 2016 Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant - commonly known as JAG funding - required Philly to comply with the statute. That law says local governments "may not prohibit, or in any way restrict" the delivery of information about "the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual" to federal immigration authorities.

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. Critics have dubbed such places "sanctuary cities". It determined Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and CT to be in compliance.

"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". 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 USA illegally. "The NOPD will continue to focus on the arrest and conviction of violent criminals, regardless of their immigration status".

The police memo, dated May 17, 2001, is created to encourage immigrants to utilize city services without fear of reprisal.

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.

Landrieu responded Thursday, saying New Orleans is in compliance with federal immigration law.

But, the process might not be as smooth for the jurisdictions facing that October 27 deadline. Perhaps ironically, another major Trump supporter, Republican former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, memorably offered a dramatic defense of policies that shielded immigrants from persecution while running City Hall in the 1990s.

In August, Kenney announced a lawsuit against Sessions, alleging that new JAG funding requirements that force cities to abandon "sanctuary city" policies are unlawful.

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