Feds: District sanctuary city compliant
The District of Columbia proudly proclaims its sanctuary city status, but the federal government said this week that Washington’s policies are actually in compliance with federal law and the city won’t lose any grant money.
Justice Department officials had demanded D.C. defend its policies, but after a review federal officials said the nation’s capital does enough to cooperate with deportation officers to put it right with the law.
“We found no evidence that Washington, D.C., is currently out of compliance,” Jon Adler, director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, wrote in a letter to the city. The letter was dated Thursday, but released Friday.
While Washington got good news, other sanctuary jurisdictions weren’t so fortunate.
Mr. Adler warned Seattle and the state of Vermont that their policies may conflict with federal law. And he issued a new warning to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, demanding she justify her city’s behavior.
Ms. Schaaf got into a tussle with federal officials in late February after she warned illegal immigrants of an impending enforcement sweep targeting hundreds of fugitives.
“When cities and states enact policies that thwart the federal government’s ability to enforce federal immigration law, they choose to place the protection of criminal aliens over the safety of their communities,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement announcing the actions Friday.
Section 1373 of Title VII of federal law says states and localities can’t prohibit sharing of citizenship status or other immigration information with federal officials.
Jurisdictions that run afoul of 1373 are in danger of losing federal grant money.
The Trump administration sent our warning letters to a number of jurisdictions last year and demanded more information from them. Most jurisdictions appear to be safe, however.
The District has several sanctuary policies. One is a 2011 mayor’s order telling police not to inquire about immigration status and not to report migrants to federal officials unless they’re targets of a criminal investigation. Another is a 2012 ordinance telling police to use discretion in deciding whether to detain someone at the request of immigration authorities.
The Justice Department didn’t detail its thinking on why that policy doesn’t conflict with Section 1373.