22 April, 2017
In a series of letters sent to local government officials in major cities around the country, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami, the Justice Department said the jurisdictions have until June 30 to prove compliance with a federal law requiring local authorities to share citizenship or immigrant status of individuals with the Immigration and Naturalization Service if requested or risk losing funds provided in 2016 justice assistance grants.
The Trump administration sent letters to nine jurisdictions in its conflict with sanctuary cities, communities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities.
The ultimatums from President Trump's Administration were accompanied by an accusation that numerous targeted jurisdictions are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime".
In a statement, the Justice Department said the recipients of its letters are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime".
"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future. grants, or other action, as appropriate", Hanson wrote.
Federal statute 8 USC § 1373 prohibits local and state governments from enacting policies that limit such communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Protection.
New Orleans was among the 100 communities that "limit cooperation" with the federal government, according to a list the Trump administration put out in March. Seattle, not one of the places targeted with a letter, and other jurisdictions have sued the Trump administration over the sanctuary issue.
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The sanctuary cities were a reaction to Obama-era policies that enlisted local police in immigration enforcement.
Butterworth also says New Orleans police have no means or authority to enforce immigration laws or hold someone suspected of violating them.
"We don't think there's a problem", he said. That's the latest effort from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to punish cities for protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation. "The Department of Justice claims to care about the well-being of American people, but the very same dollars they have threatened to withhold provide funding for our systems of security", Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said in a statement.
"People are scared, and because of that, they're less willing to report crime", Butterworth added.
A Justice Department statement accompanying the letters also claimed that illegal immigration into the U.S. has served to increase crime these cities.
"Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration".