Trump Threatens to Cut Off Funding From 'Sanctuary Cities'

Sen. Kevin de Leon addresses the Senate in Sacramento last year

Sen. Kevin de Leon addresses the Senate in Sacramento last year

The Justice Department on Friday sent letters to New York City, California, Chicago, Philadelphia and other localities asking for proof they are following federal immigration laws or else their federal grant funding could be revoked.

"Today, the Department of Justice sent letters to nine jurisdictions that were identified by the Obama administration as having policies that potentially violate federal law and which receive millions of dollars in federal grants", Sessions said.

Despite perennial debates in cities and counties statewide over "sanctuary" policies to protect undocumented immigrants - including restrictions on cooperation between local and federal law enforcement - DOJ has not yet targeted any New Mexico jurisdictions.

The Justice Department claimed illegal immigration into the country has increased crime in these cities.

"I have never met a member of the New York Police Department that is soft on crime", Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra also issued a strong rebuke to the letter.

New York City's lone Congressional Republican, Representative Dan Donovan, criticized the practices of sanctuary cities, but also wrote that the NYPD made New York the safest big city in America.

Elected officials of certain sanctuary cities have vocalized that they would continue to defy the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration. So, for example, if a local police officer arrests somebody he knows is an immigrant in the United States illegally, he can not be prohibited from passing that information along to ICE.

Police have a responsibility to enforce the law - whether it's state, local or federal.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increasingly warned communities that the Trump administration will punish those that refuse to cooperate with efforts to detain immigrants who are in the United States illegally. "My far greater concern is the proactive dissemination of misinformation, fear, and intolerance".

Abele said the county has attorneys working on a response to the DOJ's letter.

Other city and state officials also took offense at the DOJ language. Regardless, let me be clear: "Chicago's values and Chicago's future are not for sale". And by doing so they are essentially telling officers of the law to disregard their conscience.

Sessions spoke on the matter in California Friday. Cook County, Illinois, also received a warning, even though it did not get money from the Justice Department previous year.

That was the assessment of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik during his Sunday morning appearance on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends".

The Department of Justice didn't back down in the face of the criticism from de Blasio, O'Neill and other officials though.

Clark County now receives $975,604 from the federal grant in question.

Information for this article was contributed by Matt Zapotosky of The Washington Post; by Sadie Gurman, Michael Kunzelman, Ivan Moreno, Sophia Tareen, Amy Taxin, Ken Ritter and Karen Matthews of The Associated Press; by Charlie Savage and Liz Robbins of The New York Times; by Lesley Clark of Tribune News Service; and by Angela Hart of The Sacramento Bee.

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