Justice Department Gives "Sanctuary Cities" Final Warning on Immigrants

Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions Wikimedia Commons

Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions Wikimedia Commons

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 which requires them to communicate with federal immigration officials about a person's citizenship status.

In a notice reviewed by Fox News, the DOJ announced that five jurisdictions "have preliminarily been found to have laws, policies, or practices that may violate" a key federal statute concerning cooperation with federal immigration officials. Those cities were given a deadline of October 27 to provide the Justice Department with documentation proving their existing laws and law enforcement practices are in line with federal immigration policy.

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".

But leaders in cities that have under fire from the Trump administration have argued that turning police into immigration officers destroys trust between police and immigrant communities, making it less likely for people to report crimes or come forward with evidence.

"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 to The Post.

The Trump administration in April named New Orleans in a list of cities it had concerns about in regards to immigration law.

Spokesmen for CPD, Cook County and the mayor did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday morning.

Both the city and the county have identical ordinances on the books preventing local law enforcement from "expend (ing) their time responding to (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) inquiries or communicating with ICE regarding" individuals' incarceration status or release dates while on duty.

Several U.S. cities and counties passed local laws or enacted procedures that prohibit law enforcement from notifying Homeland Security when an undocumented immigrant is identified or arrested. In the letter, the department did not specify what would happen if the city failed to do so.

The letter is the latest salvo in a protracted battle between the Trump administration, with its hardline immigration policies, and city officials, who have insisted their sanctuary policies on undocumented immigrants make the city safer and do not break the law. "On its face, the Department has determined that this. appears to restrict Chicago police officers" ability to "assist' federal immigration officers by sharing information regarding immigration status with the federal officers".

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