WASHINGTON (CBSLA.com/AP) — The Trump administration is moving beyond rhetoric in its effort to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The Justice Department is forcing nine communities to prove they are complying with an immigration law to continue receiving coveted law enforcement grant money.
The department sent letters Friday to cities its inspector general previously identified as having rules limiting the information that can be provided to federal immigration authorities, including Sacramento, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
Los Angeles — which has not officially declared itself a sanctuary city despite routinely turning down requests from ICE to hold people who had been arrested until their immigration status could be checked — was not among those cities which received the letter.
The letters from Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson stated the Justice Department “expects each of these jurisdictions to comply with this grant condition and to submit all documentation to the Office of Justice Programs” by June 30.
Officials from those cities which were sent the letters must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law.
It is an extension of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ repeated threats to crack down on sanctuary communities by denying or stripping them of grant money.
California Senate leader Kevin de Leon released a statement accusing Sessions and the Trump administration of basing U.S.”law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy – not American values”.
The lawmaker’s tweet, however, included the @USAGSessions handle, which belongs not to Sessions but to a supporter’s account.
The Attorney General — who has long been accused of bigotry — rejected de Leon’s assertion.
“I totally reject that,” Sessions said, “I think that is a despicable statement. We would never do that. The Department of Justice is absolutely committed to race neutral and fair application of the law in every circumstance.”
In Los Angeles, State Attorney General Xavier Becerra is clearly not a fan of the federal policy.
“Any time that the federal government, with its awesome power, tries to engage in unconstitutional actions against your state, it should concern you, and we take it very seriously. That’s why we challenged and won in many cases [against] the Trump administration actions and we’ll continue to do that as long as we need to protect the rights of the people of California.”
In other words, California is telling the feds, “If necessary, we’ll see you in court.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)