Published: Sat, April 22, 2017
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Justice Dept. Tells 9 Sanctuary Cities Grant Money at Risk


Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, speaks as Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly listens after the pair toured the ports of entry and met with Justice Department and DHS personnel Thursday in El Paso, Tex.

It sent a letter warning the jurisdictions that they could lose certain federal grants if they fail to prove they are in compliance with federal law that requires them to communicate with federal officials about on immigration matters.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill are lashing out after the the Trump administration intensified its threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities and claimed that New York City is "soft on crime".

How far Trump can go, though, and what jurisdictions can do to avoid his ire, remains unclear.

The letters were sent to officials in California, Chicago (as well as Cook County), New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee and New York City.

The Justice Department said in a press release that numerous jurisdictions were "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime".

In the process, the DoJ singled out New York City as a haven for crime, saying the city "continues to see gang murder after gang murder" as a "consequence of the city's "soft on crime" stance". It said crime in Chicago had "skyrocketed".

The letters warn officials they must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law or risk losing thousands of dollars in federal grant money that police agencies use to fund anything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.

"Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration", he said in a statement. Chicago has been a sanctuary city since the 1980s.

"There's a lot of political talk, but there's no legal analysis", Butterworth said.

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"We don't think there's a problem", he said.

Playing off Sessions' recent comments that sanctuary cities undermine the fight against gangs, the Justice Department said the communities under financial threat are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime".

Shootings, too, are down - below 1,000 previous year for the first time on record.

"If they need one more letter, we're happy to send it, and we'll get it turned around quickly", Butterworth said.

According to the Justice Department, the amount of grants ranged from Las Vegas, which received $11,537 to California, which received $10.4 million split among 128 jurisdictions. The department says it will withhold important grant money unless the county follows a federal immigration law.

"We never proclaimed to be a sanctuary community before then, and we haven't since", Hernández said.

He says the Trump administration's grandstanding is out of touch with reality.

The US Justice Department singled out Chicago and NY as two cities that are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime", even though NYC is experiencing its lowest crime levels in decades and experts say Chicago's recent spike in violent crime has little to do with illegal immigration.

A Justice Department statement accompanying the letters also claimed that illegal immigration into the United States has served to increase crime these cities.

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