Trump's Department of Justice continued its harassment of so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions on Wednesday, as it ordered 23 such states, counties, and cities to submit documents that prove compliance with federal immigration authorities.
Failure to adequately comply, the DOJ warned, means the jurisdiction risks a subpoena for the documents or possibly having to return federal grant money.
Among those receiving the letters was New York City. Responding to the demand, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, "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."
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.— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 24, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for his part, said in a statement, "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."
Those receiving the letters had previously been contacted by Trump's DOJ about their compliance with sharing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) information about undocumented people they arrested.
As NBC News reports,
Beginning in the Obama administration, the Justice Department warned local governments that in order to receive money under a crime-fighting grant program, they must not block their law enforcement officers from giving information to federal immigration authorities. Wednesday's letters ask for proof of compliance.
Specifically, the Justice Department seeks documentation that local law enforcement is not prohibited from communicating with federal immigration agents when asked for information about undocumented migrants in local jails.
However, as Reuters adds,
Many of the jurisdictions have said they already are in full compliance with the law. Some sued the administration after the Justice Department threatened to cut off millions of dollars in federal public safety grants to sanctuary cities. The cities have won in lower courts but the legal fight is ongoing.
Though his city did not receive the DOJ letter, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that he, like de Blasio, would not attend the White House meeting. "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," he said.
The development comes a month after acting ICE director Thomas Homan threatened to charge charge with federal crimes elected officials who lead sanctuary cities. In addition to New York City, the jurisdictions that received the new letters are Chicago; Cook County, Ill.; the State of California; Albany, N.Y.; Berkeley, Calif.; Bernalillo County, N.M.; Burlington, Vt; the City and County of Denver, Colo.; Fremont, Calif.; Jackson, Miss.; King County, Wash.; Lawrence, Mass.; the City of Los Angeles; Louisville Metro, Ky; Monterey County, Calif.; Sacramento County, Calif.; the City and County of San Francisco; Sonoma County, Calif.; Watsonville, Calif.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; the State of Illinois; and the State of Oregon.