The Justice Department will take a close look at the responses provided by 10 jurisdictions that received warnings about their ‘sanctuary’ policies, with officials appearing skeptical that all are living up to their claims they are compliant with federal immigration laws.
The 10 jurisdictions were warned in April that they risked federal grant funding if DOJ determined their local policies were thwarting immigration agents’ efforts to locate and take custody of illegal immigrants. Each jurisdiction was required to submit certification by June 30 attesting that its policies fall in line with federal immigration law.
In a statement issued Thursday, the Justice Department indicated it received “alleged compliance information” from each of the 10 jurisdictions and that officials were in the process of reviewing the documentation provided.
“It is not enough to assert compliance, the jurisdictions must actually be in compliance,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday. “Sanctuary cities put the lives and well-being of their residents at risk by shielding criminal illegal aliens from federal immigration authorities. These policies give sanctuary to criminals, not to law-abiding Americans.”
The jurisdictions required to certify compliance include California, Connecticut, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Clark County in Nevada (Las Vegas), Miami-Dade County in Florida, Milwaukee County in Wisconsin and Cook County in Illinois (Chicago).
The Justice Department has not indicated a deadline for determining compliance of the 10 jurisdictions.
The mix of 10 cities, states and counties were required to prove their local policies are in compliance with federal law U.S.C. 1373, which bans local governments from enacting policies that restrict communications with federal immigration authorities “regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. The jurisdictions were singled out last year for possibly violating the federal statute by the Obama administration’s Justice Department in an inspector general’s report.
The responses provided by the 10 jurisdictions varied greatly, with some striking a defiant note.
Philadelphia officials alleged a local policy banning city officials from inquiring about residents’ immigration status does not violate federal law because if the city doesn’t have the information, its officials can’t be required to share it.
“The federal statute does not require cities to inquire about or collect immigration status information, but only prohibits cities from restricting the sharing of that information if they have it,” wrote City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante.
The Justice Department statement noted that some of the 10 jurisdictions “have boldly asserted they will not comply with requests from federal immigration authorities” and that such statements could potentially the federal statute.
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