LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — The state of California and the city of Los Angeles were among several U.S. jurisdictions Wednesday who were warned they may face subpoenas if they don’t willingly relinquish documents showing they aren’t withholding information about the citizenship or immigration status of people in custody.
Targeting so-called sanctuary cities seeking public safety grant money, the Justice Department sent letters to roughly two dozen jurisdictions, including California and Los Angeles, that refuse to comply with a federal statute requiring information-sharing with federal authorities.
In addition to L.A. and New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, the Washington state county that includes Seattle, Louisville, Sacramento, Albany, and West Palm Beach are among the jurisdictions that received the document requests.
The move is a part of the Trump administration’s promised crackdown on cities and states that refuse to help enforce U.S. immigration laws.
Several mayors – including New York City’s Bill DeBlasio and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu – said they would not attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 86th Annual Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. in response to the move.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the administration’s efforts won’t make cities safer.
“There’s not a single mayor in this country who says, ‘Please, if you’re a criminal, come on over, and if you’re undocumented, bonus points’,” said Garcetti.
The White House called the move a “political stunt” by Democratic mayors.
Many cities have been openly defiant in the face of the threats, with lawsuits pending in Chicago, Philadelphia and California over whether the administration has overstepped its authority by seeking to withhold grant money.
Officials said the places have been previously warned that they need to provide information about their policies to be eligible to receive grants that pay for everything from bulletproof vests to officer overtime.
“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement — enough is enough.”
But defenders of sanctuary city practices say they actually improve public safety by promoting trust among law enforcement and immigrant communities and reserving scarce police resources for other, more urgent crime-fighting needs.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)