DOJ Targets 29 'Sanctuary Cities' in Latest Salvo


The Justice Department on Wednesday escalated its crackdown on so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions, naming more than two dozen cities, counties and states across America that it believes may be out of compliance with laws mandating local cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent letters to officials in localities from Jackson, Mississippi, to Sonoma County, California, demanding that they certify that they are in compliance with federal immigration law or risk losing millions of dollars through a federal law enforcement grant program.

The letters were sent to jurisdictions that previously received Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, which were allocated about $376 million by Congress in fiscal 2016.

At issue is a portion of law in the U.S. Code known as Section 1373, which prohibits localities from taking any step that would restrict public employees from sharing someone's immigration status with federal authorities.

The Justice Department under Sessions has taken an expansive view of the statute: Cities, counties and states that bar police from asking about someone's immigration status or prohibit officers from allowing federal immigration agents into their jails may be in violation of Section 1373, the attorney general has contended.

In the letters to the sanctuary jurisdictions, which the Justice Department barred reporters from making public, the department cited policies in each jurisdiction that appeared not to be in compliance, frequently including prohibitions on local police inquiring about immigration status. But they also pointed to policies like declining to notify federal immigration authorities of the upcoming jail release of someone in the country illegally or whether officials reasonably suspect a person illegally re-entered the U.S.

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