Attorney General Jeff Sessions has launched a “draconian” and unconstitutional attack on city and state efforts to protect undocumented immigrants, Mayor de Blasio and state Attorney General Barbara Underwood charged in lawsuits Wednesday.
The suits, filed in Manhattan Federal Court, revolve around some $13 million in federal grants for city and state law enforcement. The Department of Justice has for the first time imposed requirements that the city and state tell the feds about the citizenship status of inmates, among other measures, if they want to receive the grant.
The city has passed sanctuary city laws that limit cooperation with the federal government on immigration enforcement. Gov. Cuomo has said repeatedly that President Trump’s harsh immigration policies are contrary to New York’s values.
“Our message is clear: The Trump administration’s actions are illegal and morally bankrupt,” de Blasio said. “We have proven, time and again, that welcoming immigrants has helped make this the safest big city in the country. Any attempt to jeopardize the trust between our local law enforcement and immigrant New Yorkers will fail.”
The suits argue that the new policy on the grants represents an unconstitutional intrusion on local governments’ rights to set law enforcement priorities. The city has previously used the funds to support emergency responders, diversion programs for nonviolent felony drug offenders, and anti-cybercrime and identity theft efforts. The state has used the money to fight the opioid epidemic and combat gun violence.
“Instead of allowing New York’s law enforcement agencies to determine how best to keep New Yorkers safe, the Trump administration is threatening to withhold vital public safety funds. This is a political attack on New Yorkers, at the expense of our public safety — and it is unlawful. So we will see the Trump administration in court,” said Underwood.
Virginia, Massachussetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington joined New York in the suit.
The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.
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