DOJ asks sanctuary cities to prove cooperation with immigration law

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Attorney General Sessions has taken particular aim at sanctuary policies, saying they are linked to spikes in crime and threaten public safety. Sessions appealed to local governments to help federal efforts to deport criminals.

"If they need one more letter, we're happy to send it, and we'll get it turned around quickly", Butterworth said.

In California, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his state has a "right to determine how it will provide for the safety and general welfare of its residents and to safeguard their constitutional rights".

Lombardo says the Clark County jail assigns guards to notify ICE about unsafe immigrant criminals during booking. "To the contrary, our elected officials have taken an oath to uphold both state and federal laws".

The board works closely with local law enforcement agencies, including administering police agency grants and training programs.

While murders and violence are up in some big cities like Chicago, overall crime remains near historic lows.

Since fiscal 2012, the average amount the city received in revenue from Justice Department was $43 million. 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.

"This grand-standing shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality", Stein said. He says it is safe, thanks to policies that encourage cooperation between police and immigrant communities.

Similar letters were sent to officials in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and the California corrections department. A letter to nine such municipalities threatened withholding millions in grant money if they don't comply. In Maryland, the city of Hyattsville voted Monday to declare itself an official "sanctuary".

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that "greater latitude to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities" was a priority for the administration in the budget bill, along with money for a border wall.

The Trump administration wants Philadelphia to prove that it is cooperating with immigration officials.

In general, "sanctuary cities" offer safe harbor to undocumented immigrants and often advance the enforcement of federal immigration laws without municipal funds or resources.

Abele called the department's characterization of the cities and counties "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration" inaccurate and counterproductive.

The grants under threat-which amounted to roughly $24.5 million for Chicago past year, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, -go in most part to law enforcement efforts. The controversy has only increased following more federal immigration raids by ICE, or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as more deportations. That means it will hold people for an extra 48 hours, long enough to be arrested by immigration authorities. In a statement on Friday, the Department of Justice said numerous jurisdictions they sent letters to are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime".

That money go toward law enforcement, prosecution and court programs, according to the Justice Department. CNBC reached out to the Justice Department for copies of the letters but didn't immediately hear back. That city received almost $266,000 in grant money through the program in fiscal year 2016.

The letters are the latest move by the Trump administration to make good on campaign promises to cut federal funding to cities that don't fully comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts.

The federal law in question says state and local governments may not prohibit police or sheriffs from sharing information about a person's immigration status with federal authorities.