Trump tar­gets sanc­tu­ary zones

En­tire state of Cal­i­for­nia, two coun­ties and six cities may lose funds

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion put nine of the coun­try’s top sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions on no­tice Fri­day that they could soon lose fed­eral funds un­less they can prove they are no longer thwart­ing Home­land Se­cu­rity’s ef­forts to de­port il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

The en­tire state of Cal­i­for­nia is be­ing tar­geted. New York, Philadel­phia, Chicago, Las Ve­gas, New Orleans and Mil­wau­kee, Wis­con­sin are on Pres­i­dent Trump’s radar, too. Cook County in Illi­nois and Mi­ami-Dade County in Florida round out the list.

In let­ters to each of the nine ju­ris­dic­tions the Jus­tice Depart­ment said they signed doc­u­ments last year, when they ap­plied for Byrne Jus­tice As­sis­tance Grant money, say­ing they com­plied with a sec­tion of fed­eral law that de­mands co­op­er­a­tion when im­mi­gra­tion agents ask for it.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, tour­ing the bor­der in Cal­i­for­nia on Fri­day af­ter­noon, pleaded with the state to drop its re­sis­tance.

“Forc­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment to re­lease crim­i­nal aliens only helps vi­o­lent gangs and crim­i­nals,” Mr. Ses­sions said. “Sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions put crim­i­nals back on your streets. They help these gangs to re­fill their ranks.”

Sanc­tu­ary cities are those ju­ris­dic­tions that thwart ef­forts by de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cers to kick out il­le­gal im­mi­grants. One com­mon ver­sion of a sanc­tu­ary pol­icy pro­hibits lo­cal po­lice from alert­ing fed­eral agents when an il­le­gal im­mi­grant is in cus­tody, or when the il­le­gal im­mi­grant is go­ing to be re­leased. Other ver­sions refuse all con­tacts.

With­out com­mu­ni­ca­tion, agents are un­able to is­sue or fol­low through on de­tainer re­quests ask­ing that il­le­gal im­mi­grants be held for pickup.

While the new Jus­tice Depart­ment let­ters don’t de­tail pun­ish­ments, Mr. Trump has re­peat­edly said that sanc­tu­ary cities could lose mil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral grants if they refuse to co­op­er­ate on de­por­ta­tions.

The nine sanc­tu­ar­ies tar­geted Fri­day were all sin­gled out by the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral last year, dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Rep. John Cul­ber­son, the Texas Repub­li­can who pushed the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­lease its re­port last year, ap­plauded the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for mov­ing so quickly.

“Sanc­tu­ary cities have known since last sum­mer that this day of reck­on­ing was com­ing,” Mr. Cul­ber­son said. “One of my proud­est ac­com­plish­ments in Congress was us­ing the power of the purse to qui­etly per­suade the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion last July to no­tify ev­ery ju­ris­dic­tion in Amer­ica that sanc­tu­ary cities would no longer be el­i­gi­ble for fed­eral law en­force­ment fund­ing.”

Not on Fri­day’s tar­get list was San Fran­cisco, whose sanc­tu­ary pol­icy has been blamed for the 2015 death of Kathryn Steinle, at the hands of an il­le­gal im­mi­grant.

San Fran­cisco has al­ready sued to try to pre­vent any loss of money.

De­spite not be­ing on his new list, Mr. Ses­sions pointed to San Fran­cisco and the Steinle case while tour­ing the bor­der Fri­day. The ac­cused killer in that case, who had been re­peat­edly de­ported, snuck back in, and was re­leased by San Fran­cisco, said he was liv­ing in the city be­cause he knew it was a sanc­tu­ary.

Im­mi­grant-rights ac­tivists have de­manded that cities re­sist the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, and have called on more cities to de­clare them­selves sanc­tu­ar­ies.

They ar­gue that re­quir­ing lo­cal po­lice to turn over il­le­gal im­mi­grants will poi­son re­la­tions be­tween au­thor­i­ties and mi­nori­ties.

“When peo­ple are afraid to re­port crimes or en­gage with law en­force­ment be­cause of im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, the safety of our com­mu­ni­ties is placed at risk,” said Steve Choi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the New York Im­mi­gra­tion Coali­tion.

But fed­eral of­fi­cials — both in the Obama and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tions — say sanc­tu­ary cities are dan­ger­ous, both to the com­mu­ni­ties who end up get­ting se­ri­ous crim­i­nals re­leased onto their streets, and to the im­mi­gra­tion agents who then have to go out into the com­mu­ni­ties to ar­rest them.

“Forc­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment to re­lease crim­i­nal aliens only helps vi­o­lent gangs and crim­i­nals. Sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions put crim­i­nals back on your streets. They help these gangs to re­fill their ranks.” — Jeff Ses­sions, at­tor­ney gen­eral


On Fri­day, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion put nine sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions on no­tice. They will lose fed­eral funds if they don’t co­op­er­ate with Home­land Se­cu­rity.

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