Washington threatens funding cut to California, other 'sanctuary' areas

The U.S. Department of Justice signaled its intent Friday to follow through on a widespread immigration crackdown promised by President Donald Trump, warning "sanctuary" jurisdictions across the nation, including California, that the federal government would withhold law enforcement funds if they don't cooperate with immigration authorities.

The DOJ sent letters to officials in the state of California and eight localities: New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee and Sacramento.

The release went on to call NY "soft on crime", talk about how murders Chicago have "skyrocketed", and said that officials in the Bay Area seem "more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next".

A New Orleans official says the city will provide the Justice Department with proof that it is complying with federal law and cooperating with immigration authorities.

Federal statute 8 USC ยง 1373 prohibits local and state governments from enacting policies that limit such communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Protection.

It directed cities and counties to prove they are complying with federal law. Seattle, not one of the places targeted with a letter, and other jurisdictions have sued the Trump administration over the sanctuary issue.

Butterworth also says New Orleans police have no means or authority to enforce immigration laws or hold someone suspected of violating them.

Justice Department records show New Orleans received almost $266,000 in grant money through the program in fiscal 2016. That's the latest effort from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to punish cities for protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation. It was reviewing the Justice Department's letter.

Federal courts have ruled that the federal government can only cut funding to sanctuary cities if programs are directly related to immigration, including a Supreme Court ruling that funding can only be withheld if it is relevant "to the federal interest in the project". "To say we're soft on crime is absolutely ludicrous".

Later, Police Commissioner James O'Neill issued a statement pointing out that a year ago, NY experienced fewer shootings than since the city had started keeping records.

Police operate the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, where Lombardo said four jail guards are assigned to notify ICE when risky criminals are identified during booking.

A Justice Department statement accompanying the letters also claimed that illegal immigration into the United States has served to increase crime these cities.

Both the city and county support legal efforts challenging Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities.

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