Ses­sions threat­ens to cut sanc­tu­ary city fund­ing

Pro­gram helps fight vi­o­lent crime

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

Four cities seek­ing fed­eral aid to re­duce gun vi­o­lence and gang crime first must prove they do not em­ploy sanc­tu­ary poli­cies that shield il­le­gal im­mi­grants, the Jus­tice Depart­ment an­nounced Thurs­day, the lat­est step taken by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions to force co­op­er­a­tion be­tween lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment sent let­ters to four cities strug­gling with vi­o­lent crime, telling lead­ers their cities will not be el­i­gi­ble for a new fed­eral pro­gram to ad­dress vi­o­lent crime un­less they give the Depart­ment of Home­land Security ac­cess to lo­cal jails and com­ply with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion de­tain­ers to give agents time to take cus­tody of il­le­gal im­mi­grants be­fore they are re­leased.

The let­ters were sent to lead­ers from Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico; Bal­ti­more; San Bernardino and Stock­ton, Cal­i­for­nia — each of which ex­pressed in­ter­est in the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Pub­lic Safety Part­ner­ship pro­gram.

“The Depart­ment of Jus­tice is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing our law en­force­ment at ev­ery level, and that’s why we’re ask­ing ‘sanc­tu­ary’ ju­ris­dic­tions to stop mak­ing their jobs harder,” Mr. Ses­sions said in the an­nounce­ment. “By tak­ing sim­ple, com­mon-sense con­sid­er­a­tions into ac­count, we are en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery ju­ris­dic­tion in this coun­try to co­op­er­ate with fed­eral law en­force­ment.”

When the depart­ment an­nounced the pro­gram in June, as well as its first 12 par­tic­i­pants, no men­tion was made of the re­quire­ment that cities co­op­er­ate with im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.

A Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesman said co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral au­thor­i­ties had al­ready been taken into ac­count for the first 12 cities cho­sen — which are: Birm­ing­ham, Alabama; In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana; Mem­phis, Ten­nessee; Toledo, Ohio; Ba­ton Rouge, Louisiana; Buf­falo, New York; Cincin­nati, Ohio; Hous­ton, Texas; Jack­son, Ten­nessee; Kansas City, Mis­souri; Lans­ing, Michi­gan; and Spring­field, Illi­nois.

The cities were se­lected for the pro­gram based on higher-than-av­er­age rates of vi­o­lent crime, with the un­der­stand­ing that other ju­ris­dic­tions could later be added to the pro­gram.

Each of the four cities that re­ceived let­ters Thurs­day from the Jus­tice Depart­ment had ex­pressed in­ter­est in the pro­gram after the ini­tial an­nounce­ment.

To join the pro­gram, the cities will be re­quired to show they al­low DHS of­fi­cials ac­cess to their jails in or­der to meet with in­di­vid­u­als sus­pected of be­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally, that they pro­vide DHS at least 48 hours no­tice when they plan to re­lease a known il­le­gal im­mi­grant, and that they will honor fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion de­tain­ers.

The Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which tracks ju­ris­dic­tions with sanc­tu­ary poli­cies, listed only two of the four cities as sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions — Bal­ti­more and San Bernardino.

Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment comes after the Jus­tice Depart­ment pre­vi­ously an­nounced its in­ten­tion to re­quire re­cip­i­ents of the Byrne Jus­tice As­sis­tance Grant pro­gram to co­op­er­ate with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents by al­low­ing them ac­cess to jails and pro­vid­ing 48 hours no­tice of the re­lease of il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

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