On Wednesday, the Department of Justice today sent letters to 23 jurisdictions -- states, counties, and cities -- demanding that authorities produce documentation that prove whether or not each jurisdiction is "unlawfully restricting information sharing by its law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities," according to a release.
The Department of Justice had already contacted all 23 of these jurisdictions, raising concerns about laws, policies, or practices that may be in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1373 -- a federal statute that promotes information sharing related to immigration enforcement agencies, and with which compliance is a condition of FY2016 and FY2017 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) awards. JAG awards are provided by the federal government to states and localities for law enforcement purposes, including: prosecution and courts, prevention and education, corrections, drug treatment, planning, evaluation, and crime victim and witness programs.
The letters announced by DOJ on Wednesday state that should recipient jurisdictions fail to respond, fail to respond completely, or fail to respond in a timely manner, will be subject to a Department of Justice subpoena.
“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to the release. “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 stated that failure to comply with section 1373 could result in the Justice Department seeking the return of FY2016 grants, requiring additional conditions for receipt of any FY2017 Byrne JAG funding, and/or jurisdictions being deemed ineligible to receive FY2017 Byrne JAG funding. The total amount of JAG funds distributed for Fiscal Year 2016 amounted to $179,618,386. California's Board of State and Community Corrections received, for example, $18,244,126.
In 2017, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation that became law on January 1 that declares the Golden State to be a sanctuary for illegal aliens, while limiting state and local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. California's state Attorney General, Xavier Becerra -- a former U.S. Representative -- recently stated that he will prosecute any California employer that cooperates with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in the enforcement of federal immigration law.
The following jurisdictions received the document request today:
Cook County, Illinois;
New York City, New York;
State of California;
Albany, New York;
Bernalillo County, New Mexico;
City and County of Denver, Colorado;
King County, Washington;
City of Los Angeles, California;
Louisville Metro, Kentucky;
Monterey County, California;
Sacramento County, California;
City and County of San Francisco, California;
Sonoma County, California;
West Palm Beach, Florida;
State of Illinois; and
State of Oregon.
“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,” de Blasio tweeted. “It doesn’t make us safer and it violates America’s core values.”
In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City tweeted that he would not be attending a Wednesday meeting for mayors at the White House as a result of the DOJ letter. He wrote, "I will NOT be attending today’s meeting at the White House after Donald Trump’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."
The president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, also said he would boycott the 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," Landrieu said.
According to White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters, the meeting would still take place with mayors. "We are disappointed that a number of mayors have chosen to make a political stunt instead of participating in an important discussion with the President and his administration," said Walters.
California state Attorney General Xavier Becerra