Two ‘sanc­tu­ary’ coun­ties cleared for fed­eral funds

Prove com­pli­ance with sec­tion 1373

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has cleared two coun­ties ac­cused of hav­ing “sanc­tu­ary” poli­cies that defy fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws, en­sur­ing they will be el­i­gi­ble to con­tinue to re­ceive grant money.

Clark County in Ne­vada and Mi­amiDade County in Florida re­ceived let­ters this month from the Jus­tice Depart­ment cer­ti­fy­ing that they com­ply with laws that re­quire state and lo­cal po­lice and sher­iff’s de­part­ments to share in­for­ma­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents.

They were among 10 ju­ris­dic­tions the Jus­tice Depart­ment had asked to ex­plain them­selves this year af­ter the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion flagged them last year for po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of fed­eral law.

“Based on the ma­te­ri­als you have pro­vided, we found no ev­i­dence that Clark County is cur­rently out of com­pli­ance with sec­tion 1373,” read a let­ter sent from act­ing As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Alan Han­son to Clark County of­fi­cials.

“As a re­minder, com­ply­ing with sec­tion 1373 is an on­go­ing re­quire­ment that the Of­fice of Jus­tice Pro­grams will con­tinue to mon­i­tor.”

A sim­i­lar let­ter was sent to of­fi­cials in Mi­ami-Dade County.

At stake is mil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral grant money that is sup­posed to go only to ju­ris­dic­tions that com­ply with sec­tion 1373 of Ti­tle 8 of the U.S. Code. That law pro­hibits poli­cies that re­strict com­mu­ni­ca­tions with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties “re­gard­ing the cit­i­zen­ship or im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, law­ful or un­law­ful, of any in­di­vid­ual.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion first raised the is­sue of po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions in 10 ju­ris­dic­tions last year, and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion fol­lowed up by send­ing let­ters de­mand­ing proof of com­pli­ance.

Other ju­ris­dic­tions were the states of Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut; the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Chicago, New Or­leans, New York and Philadel­phia; and Milwaukee County in Wis­con­sin and Cook County in Illi­nois (Chicago).

Of­fi­cials from Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, Cook County and Philadel­phia told The Wash­ing­ton Times on Mon­day that their ju­ris­dic­tions had not re­ceived let­ters from the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Others did not re­spond.

Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesman Devin O’Mal­ley said the depart­ment is pro­vid­ing re­sponses on a rolling ba­sis while each ju­ris­dic­tion’s doc­u­men­ta­tion is eval­u­ated.

Many of the so-called sanc­tu­ary ci­ties re­acted with sur­prise when they were sin­gled out by the Jus­tice Depart­ment, say­ing they didn’t have laws on the books that pre­vented com­mu­ni­ca­tion with fed­eral agents and that when il­le­gal im­mi­grants are ar­rested, their in­for­ma­tion is au­to­mat­i­cally sub­mit­ted to U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

When the ju­ris­dic­tions re­sponded to the Jus­tice Depart­ment, all said they were com­pli­ant with the fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law but some struck more de­fi­ant notes than others.

Chicago lead­ers re­sponded that city of­fi­cials do not col­lect in­for­ma­tion about im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus from those they en­counter and there­fore have no data to share with fed­eral agents.

The city filed a law­suit Mon­day against the Jus­tice Depart­ment, call­ing the plan to con­di­tion fed­eral law en­force­ment grants on com­pli­ance with im­mi­gra­tion law un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The law­suit al­leges that the changes would ef­fec­tively “fed­er­al­ize lo­cal jails and po­lice sta­tions, man­date war­rant­less de­ten­tions in order to in­ves­ti­gate for fed­eral civil in­frac­tions, sow fear in lo­cal im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, and ul­ti­mately make the peo­ple of Chicago less safe.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions fired back, say­ing Chicago is suf­fer­ing from a “cul­ture of law­less­ness.”

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion will not sim­ply give away grant dol­lars to city gov­ern­ments that proudly vi­o­late the rule of law and pro­tect crim­i­nal aliens at the ex­pense of pub­lic safety,” Mr. Ses­sions said Mon­day. “So it’s this sim­ple: Com­ply with the law, or forgo tax­payer dol­lars.”

Other ju­ris­dic­tions of­fered vary­ing le­gal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions, leav­ing room for in­ter­pre­ta­tion among Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials as to whether they are ac­tu­ally in com­pli­ance.

Clark County of­fi­cials say they be­lieve the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion will now shake loose $975,604 in pub­lic safety fund­ing the county was awarded in fis­cal 2016 through the Ed­ward Byrne Memo­rial Jus­tice As­sis­tance Grants Pro­gram.

“The 2016 money is ob­vi­ously very late, so hope­fully this re­moves any doubt on their part that we are com­ply­ing with fed­eral law,” said county spokesman Erik Pappa.

Mr. Pappa said the county didn’t re­ceive any di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion link­ing the de­lay to sec­tion 1373 com­pli­ance, but sus­pects that was part of the holdup.

“It was our im­pres­sion of why the money was be­ing with­held,” he said.

Mi­ami-Dade County of­fi­cials said their po­lice depart­ment re­ported no de­lays in re­ceiv­ing a Byrne JAG grant for more than $480,000 in fis­cal 2016. Their con­cern about be­ing la­beled a “sanc­tu­ary” ju­ris­dic­tion was the po­ten­tial threat to fu­ture fed­eral grants, said Mike Her­nan­dez, a spokesman for Mayor Car­los A. Gimenez.

Of­fi­cials there took ac­tion this year to en­sure they were not risk­ing fed­eral grants and or­dered the cor­rec­tions depart­ment to be­gin hon­or­ing im­mi­gra­tion de­tainer re­quests.

When the county re­sponded to the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s re­quest to prove com­pli­ance with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law, of­fi­cials sub­mit­ted 423 pages of doc­u­men­ta­tion in­clud­ing in­di­vid­ual emails from county of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edg­ing re­ceipt of de­tainer re­quests sent by U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment and fin­ger­print records of in­mates that were shared with fed­eral au­thor­i­ties.

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