Sessions Gives Sanctuary Cities a Final Warning

Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions Wikimedia Commons

The jurisdictions have until October 27 to show they don't have any codes or policies preventing local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Chicago sued the federal government in August over the threats of funding cuts being made by Justice Department.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in separate letters to Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle penned Wednesday, highlights several active policies created to shield undocumented immigrants from being unduly targeted by law enforcement entities.

A federal law known by the shorthand 1373 requires local police to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally for several days until investigators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement can intervene, even if the crime they're accused of is minor, or no charges are filed. The city's lawsuit is over whether the Justice Department has the power to withhold Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants from governments that don't cooperate with immigration agents in trying to identify and possibly deport people in the USA illegally.

The city of Philadelphia received a letter from the Justice Department on Thursday rejecting the city's argument that its policies toward Immigration Enforcement do not violate federal law.

The Justice Department also found Chicago, New Orleans, New York City and Cook County, Illinois, to be in violation.

"This letter is to inform you that, based on a preliminary review, the Department has determined that your jurisdiction appears to have laws, policies, or practices that violate" that section of law, Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson wrote to Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice director Elizabeth Glazer.

Some cities say they will only honor detainers accompanied by criminal warrants, and that compliance with the requests is voluntary and not required under the statute.

Cities on the attorney general's warning list include New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans, as well as Chicago and surrounding Cook County in IL.

"We are reviewing DOJ's response, and are prepared to fight to protect critical public safety funding", said de Blasio spokesman Seth Stein.

Kenney has been an ardent supporter of Philadelphia's "sanctuary city" policies.

The DOJ said it was the "last chance" for jurisdictions to comply.

The section Sessions references, Section 1373, is a federal statute barring local and state governments from limiting communication regarding residents' immigration or citizenship status with federal officials.

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