Sanctuary cities threatened with loss of federal grant money

Posted April 24, 2017

The Department of Justice was referring to the February release of an 18-year-old from Rikers Island even though he had been ordered deported by an immigration judge.

A New Orleans official says the city will provide the Justice Department with proof that it is complying with federal law and cooperating with immigration authorities. It also complained that after the recent arrests of 11 members of the MS-13 Salvadoran street gang, the deputy police chief of Santa Cruz, California, had stressed that the raid was unrelated to immigration instead of "warning other MS-13 members that they would be next".

On Friday, the Department of Justice sent a letter to authorities in Chicago, New York, New Orleans, California, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Miami, saying they need to prove by the end of June that they are adhering to federal laws on immigration, or they face the risk of losing federal grants. That enforced a hard deadline on a policy first put in place under the Obama administration, which announced the policy last July but gave cities not in compliance time to adjust.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill, who appeared with de Blasio at police headquarters, said the "soft on crime" statement made his blood boil. In March, he vowed to "claw back" funding to the immigrant-friendly cities after Trump signed an executive order in January to strip federal funding from the so-called sanctuary cities.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon says the Trump administration is basing its policies on "principles of white supremacy" and not American values. "This is an insult, this statement". "Those policies, implemented by New York City's mayor and his administration, are directly responsible for a unsafe MS-13 gang member walking out of Rikers Island (jail complex) in February".

The Justice Department doubled down after de Blasio's comments, repeating its "soft on crime" description.

And when Immigration and Customs Enforcement sends validated requests for information regarding the release of violent criminals from police custody or jail, New York City readily cooperates. "That makes no one safer", Bharara said on Twitter.

Fact: Crime in New York City is at its lowest levels since the NYPD began counting comprehensively a quarter century ago, with murders, shootings and all serious crimes at a small fraction of their numbers past, even as the city's population has grown.

Perhaps the biggest controversy surrounding the DOJ's demand was sparked by the department's claim that New York City is "soft on crime".

"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future (Office of Justice Programs) grants or subgrants, or other action, as appropriate", said Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson in the letters.

They were singled out in a May 2016 report by the Justice Department's inspector general that found local policies or rules could interfere with providing information to immigration agents.