DOJ gives last chance warning to NYC for sanctuary city policies

Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions Wikimedia Commons

Despite a warning from the U.S. Department of Justice, the City of New Orleans says it is in full compliance with federal immigration law.

The Justice Department determined that these policies violate federal immigration law because they restrict the sharing of information regarding immigration status, Hanson noted in his letter.

Similar letters went to Chicago and Cook County where that city is located, Philadelphia and New Orleans telling them they're out of compliance.

That's to protect victims and witnesses of crimes who would otherwise be afraid to come forward, city officials say.

At stake is a policing grant that the city received from the department in 2016 - and, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened earlier this year, future grants, too.

The federal immigration law in question states that a "federal, state, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual". Landrieu and NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison also have argued that targeting people through immigration status makes vulnerable communities less likely to report crimes and work with law enforcement. Critics have dubbed such places "sanctuary cities". Even before Friday's ruling, the Justice Department already took its objections to the injunction to the Chicago-based U.S. 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

At issue, according to the Justice Department letter, are city and county restrictions on cooperation with federal agents to determine the "immigration status of any person".

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Critics have also pointed out local compliance with 1373 can lead to jail overcrowding. "We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373 but to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens".

A Thursday Justice Department statement names Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

The mayor added: "We will build relationships between the NOPD and all community members". Landry said Landrieu's "blatant disregard for the law would have serious consequences".

The exchange between Landrieu and Sessions' Justice Department is hardly the first contentious battle over the NOPD's policies on immigration. "Mitch Landrieu is playing politics at the expense of New Orleans".

President Trump vowed to strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, which refuse to assist with enforcement and deportation against undocumented immigrants. When the Justice Department included New Orleans on a preliminary list of alleged "sanctuary cities" in April, the city's leaders accused federal leaders of not "doing their homework".

Wednesday's letter demanded that the city certify that police officers aren't prohibited from contacting federal immigration authorities to ask about an individual's immigration status.

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