Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

'Sanctuary cities' given 15 days to comply with immigration law

'Sanctuary cities' given 15 days to comply with immigration law

President Donald Trump's Justice Department this week sent letters contending Chicago and Cook County violated federal immigration laws previous year when they were awarded public safety grants.

Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Cook County, Illinois, "adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday. They have until October 27 to provide evidence of compliance, the DOJ said.

It's not the first time the Trump administration has vowed to withhold public safety grants from uncooperative cities.

A federal judge in Texas blocked the enforcement of a state "sanctuary cities" law in August. Immigration is a federal matter.

NBC10 will livestream a press conference with Mayor Jim Kenney at 4:30 p.m.

City leaders have long maintained that fostering a good relationship between the police department and immigrant communities will help keep the city safer.

An additional three policies also may not be in compliance, depending on the way Philadelphia applies them.

The Justice Department began stepping up pressure on Philadelphia and several other cities in April, when it warned in a letter that a policy of not sharing information with Immigration Enforcement agents violates the terms of a police training grant.

Milwaukee County and the State of CT, which did not receive letters in the initial review, were also found to be compliant.

The sanctuary jurisdictions say they are following the law, which says local authorities can not prevent information exchange with federal immigration agents about people's immigration status.

The Justice Department said it had found no evidence that four other jurisdictions - Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Clark County, Nevada, Miami-Dade County, Florida and the State of CT - were in violation of the statue, known as Section 1373.

The executive order, signed by Kenney on January 4, 2016, directs Philadelphia police to disregard detainer requests unless they are supported by a judicial warrant and involve a person being released after conviction for a first- or second-degree violent felony. That law says local governments "may not prohibit, or in any way restrict" the delivery of information about "the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual" to federal immigration authorities. The Byrne grant applications "required you to comply" with the federal rules, according to the letters dated Wednesday from Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson and posted on the Justice Department Website.

The Kenney administration received the letter Thursday and is still reviewing it, spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said.

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