Cities and states with “sanctuary policies” have 15 days to provide evidence of compliance with federal immigration laws, the US Department of Justice has announced, singling out five jurisdictions including Chicago and New York.
Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Cook County, Illinois, “adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday.
“I urge all jurisdictions found to be out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents,” he added.
The five jurisdictions “have laws, policies, or practices” that may violate 8 US Code 1373, a federal statute concerning cooperation with federal immigration officials. They have until October 27 to provide evidence of compliance, the DOJ said.
Earlier this year, Sessions threatened to withhold federal law enforcement grants from any cities or counties found to be out of compliance with federal immigration policies.
A May 2016 inspector general report flagged several other jurisdictions as possibly violating federal requirements. On Thursday, the DOJ announced that Milwaukee County, Wisconsin and the state of Connecticut were complying with the statute. Clark County, Nevada and Miami-Dade County, Florida, were certified earlier this year.
The announcement comes a day after the DOJ announced a new partnership with the State Department to share information to crack down on employers abusing worker visa programs such as the H-1B.
The temporary work visas allow companies to hire foreign workers with specialty skills. The law is clear that they cannot hire a foreign worker when an American worker is just as qualified, however.
On Sunday, the Trump administration unveiled a 70-point immigration proposal aimed at toughening existing laws and closing legal loopholes. Among the measures include transforming the Green Card system, beefing up border security and facilitating deportations. If implemented, the policies would also ban states from receiving grants provided by the DOJ and Homeland Security if they are found to be “sanctuary cities.”
States are fighting back against the threats, however.
On October 6, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law protections for some 2.3 million immigrants living in the US illegally. Under the law, dubbed the California Values Act, local law enforcement will be prohibited from asking suspects about immigration status “during routine interactions” or complying with “unconstitutional” detainer requests from federal immigration officials.
Sessions had urged Brown to veto the bill, calling it “unconscionable.”
A federal judge in Texas blocked the enforcement of a state “sanctuary cities” law in August. The Texas Senate Bill 4 would have required local law enforcement to assist federal immigration agents. Judge Orlando Garcia said the measure would “erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe.”
Officials in Denver, Colorado, passed an ordinance in August restricting local officials’ cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
In early August, Chicago sued the federal government over the threat to withhold law enforcement grants. The city argued the federal policy is forcing the city to choose between its constitutional rights and funding for law enforcement.