Trump v. California

Feds threatens more “sanctuary” localities with the loss of crime-fighting funds

The Trump Administration continues to go after jurisdictions it says are running afoul of regulations to receive funding because of their sanctuary policies.

First it was  Stockton and San Bernardino, but this week the Department of Justice sent more than two dozen letters to cities counties and states across the country it believes are out of compliance for receiving federal dollars because of their status as sanctuaries,a term used to describe areas that prohibit law enforcers from reporting the immigration status of certain people to immigration authorities. Eleven are in California including the cities of Berkeley, Los Angeles and Santa Ana and the counties of Contra Costa, Monterey and San Francisco.

After the first letters were sent to California cities in the spring, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to protect federal funding for self-proclaimed “sanctuary” cities and counties.

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“It’s a low blow to our men and women who wear that badge for the federal government to threaten their crime-fighting resources in order to force them to do the work of the federal government when it comes to immigration enforcement,” Becerra said at the time.

President Trump's immigration policy drew protesters in San Francisco, a sanctuary city that has for decades offered immigrants some protections from federal immigration officials. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen (via Wikimedia Commons)

President Trump’s immigration policy drew protesters in San Francisco, a sanctuary city that has for decades offered immigrants some protections from federal immigration officials. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen via Wikimedia Commons

The localities are being asked to prove they are in compliance or risk losing federal law enforcement grant funding. At issue is whether these jurisdictions are restricting their employees from sharing a person’s immigration status with federal immigration authorities under Section 1373 of the law. The Justice Dept. argues that if employees are barred from asking about immigration status or required not to share the information with federal agents, the local agency would be violating a federal law.

“I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents,” Attorney General Sessions said in a statement. “We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373, but also to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”

The latest round of cities have until Dec. 8 to respond.

Cities and states have filed various lawsuits against the federal government over the letters. On Wednesday a judge in Philadelphia blocked the Department of Justice from claiming it could cut off funds.

This is the latest turn in the administration’s effort to go after sanctuary cities or jurisdictions. In January, shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to pull federal funds from these cities and counties. It was struck down by a California judge a few month later.

The funds at stake are from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, which provides funding for personnel, training and equipment.

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