Last April the Department of Justice warned authorities in jurisdictions around the country that failure to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, i.e. so-called sanctuary cities policies, could result in a loss of grant money. Since then, California and New York City have doubled-down on their policies. Today, Fox News reports the DOJ sent a letter to 23 jurisdictions including the states of California, Illinois, and Oregon, demanding that they provide documentation on their current policies. The letters warn that failure to reply could result in a subpoena for the information:
The letters from the Justice Department state that jurisdictions that fail to respond will be subject to a DOJ subpoena…
The DOJ letter requests documents “reflecting any orders, directives, instructions, or guidance to your law enforcement employees” about how to “communicate with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
If these jurisdictions can’t prove they are complying with federal law, senior DOJ officials told Fox News, federal funding could be withheld and the DOJ may demand the return of 2016 federal funding some of the cities have already received.
In a statement about the letters posted on the DOJ website, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk.” He continued, “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement—enough is enough.”
DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores appeared on Fox and Friends this morning to defend the letters. “We’ve given them federal dollars – your taxpayer dollars – to cooperate with federal law enforcement,” Flores said. She added, “They didn’t have to take that money, but they did. And when they took it, they said they would comply with federal law. So what we’re saying is if we find out you’re not complying with federal law, we’re taking the tax dollars back.” (Video below)
Needless to say, the subpoena threat didn’t go over well with some of the mayors of these jurisdictions. A group of Mayors scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House Wednesday announced they were boycotting the meeting in protest. From NBC News:
Members of the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors, whose annual winter meeting in the nation’s capital kicked off Wednesday, had been slated to sit down with Trump later in the day to talk about the opioid epidemic and infrastructure. But the group’s leader canceled the official session, citing the White House’s “decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again.”
““Many mayors of both parties were looking forward to visiting the White House today to speak about infrastructure and other issues of pressing importance to the 82 percent of Americans who call cities home,” Mitch Landrieu, the group’s president and the Democratic mayor of New Orleans, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again – and use cities as political props in the process – has made this meeting untenable.”…
The mayors’ confab in Washington offered an immediate chance to respond to the administration’s action. Several cities have become both centers of resistance to Republican rule and proving grounds for progressives to show they can govern effectively. The conference had been touted as an opportunity for a rising cohort of mayors to discuss those progressive-learning solutions they’ve applied at home.
New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced his opposition on Twitter.
I will NOT be attending today’s meeting at the White House after @realDonaldTrump’s Department of Justice decided to renew their racist assault on our immigrant communities. It doesn’t make us safer and it violates America’s core values.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 24, 2018
Here’s the video of Flores defending the letters on Fox and Friends: