The Department of Justice sent letters to 23 sanctuary cities and states requesting documentary proof that law enforcement is obeying federal immigration law. The letters came with the warning that if they didn’t comply, subpoenas would be issued.
At stake for the cities and states is funding for several law enforcement programs. And the Department of Homeland Security has asked the Justice Department to look into filing charges against the leaders of sanctuary cities.
“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 said.
Three states received the letters — California, Illinois and Oregon. Among major cities were Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
The letters said they would not be awarded new grants and that the government might come after them to return money they’ve received in previous grants if they are found to be out of compliance.
Beginning in the Obama administration, the Justice Department warned local governments that in order to receive money under a crime-fighting grant program, they must not block their law enforcement officers from giving information to federal immigration authorities. Wednesday’s letters ask for proof of compliance.
Specifically, the Justice Department seeks documentation that local law enforcement is not prohibited from communicating with federal immigration agents when asked for information about undocumented migrants in local jails.
Federal courts have blocked the Trump administration from withholding grant money from local governments that refuse to give immigration authorities advance notice before illegal immigrants are released from custody or that decline to allow immigration agents to visit local jails.
Wednesday’s letters involve the separate issue of whether local authorities are prohibited from giving any information to immigration agents about people in their custody.
Make no mistake, the Justice Department has thrown down the gauntlet to sanctuary cities. Since it is doubtful that states and cities will incriminate themselves by handing over the required documents, expect subpoenas to be on the way soon.
But sanctuary cities will almost certainly be able to fend off the efforts of DoJ and DHS to force them to comply with federal law. Liberal judges have shown no reluctance to back sanctuary cities by shielding them from the feds. That’s why, unlike the funding issue where courts have taken the side of sanctuary cities, this is an issue of states and cities directly defying the law and is ripe for a Supreme Court challenge.
Meanwhile, criminal illegal aliens continue to be released to prey upon the general public.