Justice Department Asks California, Other 'Sanctuary Cities' for Proof of Immigration Enforcement

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22 April, 2017

In California, Attorney General Xavier Becerra suggested the state would not comply with the demand letter from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The program is named after Eddie Byrne, an NYPD officer who was gunned down in 1988 while guarding the home of an immigrant who'd been targeted by gangs for reporting serious crimes in the neighborhood.

"Contrary to their alternative facts, NY is the safest big city in the country, with crime at record lows in large part because we have policies in place to encourage cooperation between NYPD and immigrant communities".

After a raid led to the arrests of 11 MS-13 gang members in California's Bay Area "city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next", the department said in a statement. It is the second-lowest murder rate in New York City history, tied with 2013 and just behind 2014's all-time low of 333. "See how that feels, and see how the people of New York City will feel about that".

State corrections officials issued a brief statement saying the Board of State and Community Corrections is reviewing the letter, and that it "complies" with the federal law referenced in the Justice Department letter.

"Failure to comply ... could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant", the DOJ's letter reads in part. "With federal money moving forward, there could be the potential for federal strings to be attached". That potentially includes $9 million in DOJ grants to the city.

The Department of Justice sent letters to representatives of nine jurisdictions-including two in Chicago-threatening to cut off funds if they don't allow local law enforcement to cooperate freely with immigration enforcement and asking for proof of steps taken.

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Donald Trump's Justice Department on Friday ratcheted up the pressure on Chicago and other so-called sanctuary cities.

"This grandstanding shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality", spokesman Seth Stein said.

Immigrant rights groups painted the DOJ's move as "senseless and hypocritical".

They were singled out in a May 2016 report by the Justice Department's inspector general that found local policies or rules could interfere with providing information to immigration agents.

Later, Police Commissioner James O'Neill issued a statement pointing out that past year, NY experienced fewer shootings than since the city had started keeping records.

Officials in Philadelphia, Milwaukee County and Cook County said they believed they were complying with immigration laws.


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