Four sanc­tu­ary cities fac­ing loss of crime fight­ing as­sis­tance

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions moved Thurs­day to again pun­ish so-called sanc­tu­ary cities, this time threat­en­ing to deny fed­eral crime-fight­ing re­sources to four cities be­set by vi­o­lence if they don’t step up ef­forts to help de­tain and de­port peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment sent let­ters to cities strug­gling with gun vi­o­lence, telling them they will be in­el­i­gi­ble for a new pro­gram that aims to root out drug traf­fick­ing and gang crime un­less they give fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties ac­cess to jails and pro­vide ad­vance no­tice be­fore re­leas­ing some­one in cus­tody who is wanted on im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions. The cities _ Bal­ti­more, Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico, and Stock­ton and San Bernardino in California _ all ex­pressed in­ter­est in the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s new Pub­lic Safety Part­ner­ship, which en­lists fed­eral agents, an­a­lysts and tech­nol­ogy to help com­mu­ni­ties find so­lu­tions to crime.

“By tak­ing sim­ple, com­mon­sense con­sid­er­a­tions into ac­count, we are en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery ju­ris­dic­tion in this coun­try to co-op­er­ate with fed­eral law en­force­ment,’’ Ses­sions said in a state­ment that ac­com­pa­nied the let­ters. “That will ul­ti­mately make all of us safer _ es­pe­cially law en­force­ment on our streets.’’

In the let­ters, the depart­ment asked the four prospec­tive cities’ po­lice de­part­ments to show proof of their com­pli­ance by Aug. 18.

The threat marks Ses­sions’ lat­est ef­fort to force lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to co-op­er­ate with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties, part of a push to re­duce crime he be­lieves is linked to il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Ses­sions has pledged to make fight­ing street crime the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s top pri­or­ity, but the strat­egy is putting him at odds with some city lead­ers, who say the best way to fight crime and build com­mu­nity trust is to keep lo­cal po­lice out of fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion mat­ters.

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