The Department of Justice on Friday reprimanded nine "sanctuary" jurisdictions for failing to adhere to federal requests to detain illegal immigrants.
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. The statute, 8 USC § 1373, prohibits local and state governments from enacting laws or policies that limit communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Customs and Border Protection about "information regarding the immigration or citizenship status."
The Justice Department said it "expects each of these jurisdictions to comply with this grant condition and to submit all documentation to the Office of Justice Programs by June 30, 2017, the deadline imposed by the grant agreement," the letters from Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson read.
The department sent letters to Sacramento, Chicago, Cook County, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee and New York City.
These cities and others that have been dubbed "sanctuary" cities say they are not in violation of the federal statute because it does not require compliance with ICE requests such as detainers or requests for notification of release dates. The statute only prohibits the enactment of certain policies about sharing immigration status, which they say they do not do.
All cities could lose the Office of Justice Programs Byrne JAG grant if not in compliance. According to the government's website, the grant "provides federal criminal justice funding to state, local and tribal jurisdictions" for things such as personnel, training, equipment and supplies.
The letters make good on a promise by both President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who both have said cracking down on sanctuary policies are vital to fighting crime and bolstering public safety.
Sessions is now on his second tour of the U.S.-Mexico border with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, visiting El Paso, Texas, on Thursday and San Diego on Friday.