Justice Dept. sends warning letter to sanctuary cities

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The administration has sent letters warning that they may lose law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The DOJ letters ask officials to show documentation validating their compliance with federal statute U.S.C. 1373, which prohibits any federal, state or local government entity from restricting government entities or officials from sharing information about an individual's citizenship or immigration status.

Those threatened include the state of California; New York City; Chicago; Philadelphia; Clark County, Nevada; New Orleans; Miami Dade County, Florida; and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

The money helps pay for bomb suits, human trafficking investigations, body cameras, community policing, terrorism prevention, and efforts to combat the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet. In both cases, federal officials can (and frequently do) go into these cities and enforceme these laws themselves. It's the latest salvo in the Justice Department's efforts to force so-called "sanctuary cities" into reporting illegal immigrants. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Sessions had been the other Alabama senator until he took the helm at the Justice Department. For example, according to the Justice Department, the city of NY received a $4.3 million grant in 2016.

"California has a right to determine how it will provide for the safety and general welfare of its residents and to safeguard their constitutional rights", Becerra said in a statement.

The Democratic mayor called the "soft on crime" characterization "absolutely outrageous". Sessions says it's, quote, "unthinkable" to him that some cities won't cooperate, and he's giving them a deadline at the end of June. They have said that having local police turn in illegal immigrants to federal authorities will make it more hard for the police to gain the trust of communities they need to work with to reduce crime.

The department's statement did not, however, offer any evidence to support a correlation between illegal immigration and increased violence in sanctuary cities.

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"We really can't discuss impacts without having more information about what might happen", she said.

Clark County now receives $975,604 from the federal grant in question.

President Donald Trump famously campaigned on a promise to eject illegal immigrants and to go after the cities that were protecting them.

Those who do not comply "are not eligible to receive federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary", the order read.

"Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has adopted a hard line on immigration, dating to his time in the U.S. Senate.

County Executive Chris Abele and District Attorney John Chisholm held a news conference in response to the threat this afternoon.