The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday that it will subpoena up to 23 jurisdictions if they don’t offer proof they are complying with a key federal immigration law.
In letters to major cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, the DOJ requested documents relating to how their policies fall in line with 8 USC 1373, a section of federal law that prohibits jurisdictions from enacting laws that restrict communication between local officials and federal immigration authorities.
The department had previously sent similar requests to the 23 jurisdictions, but DOJ officials say the responses did not provide enough information to confirm compliance with Section 1373.
“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law.”
Any jurisdictions that fail to provide the requested information by Feb. 23 will receive a federal subpoena to compel the documents, the DOJ letters said.
The DOJ has tried to pressure sanctuary cities by threatening to withhold certain federal funds, as part of the Trump administration’s broader crackdown on illegal immigration. Last year, Sessions revised the eligibility guidelines for Byrne criminal justice grants, requiring applicants to honor federal immigration detention requests, give immigration agents unfettered access to local jails, and comply with Section 1373.
In response to a lawsuit from the city of Chicago, a federal judge blocked the first two rules, but allowed the Section 1373 requirement to stand. The DOJ letters sent Tuesday specifically tying future Byrne grants to compliance with the section.
“Failure to comply with section 1373 could result in the Justice Department seeking the return of FY2016 grants, requiring additional conditions for receipt of any FY2017 Byrne JAG funding, and/or jurisdictions being deemed ineligible to receive FY2017 Byrne JAG funding,” the DOJ said.
According to a DOJ announcement, the jurisdictions that face a subpoena are:
Chicago; Cook County, Ill.; New York City; the state of California; Albany, N.Y.; Berkeley, Calif.; Bernalillo County, N.M.; Burlington, Vt.; the city and county of Denver, Colo.; Fremont, Calif.; Jackson, Miss.; King County, Wash.; Lawrence, Mass.; City of Los Angeles, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Monterey County, Calif.; Sacramento County, Calif.; the city and county of San Francisco; Sonoma County, Calif.; Watsonville, Calif.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; the state of Illinois and the state of Oregon.
“We’ve given them federal dollars — your taxpayer dollars — to cooperate with federal law enforcement,” DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told Fox News Wednesday. “They didn’t have to take that money, but they did. And when they took it, they said they would comply with federal law. So what we’re saying is if we find out you’re not complying with federal law, we’re taking the tax dollars back.”