Justice Department Warns 'Sanctuary Cities,' With Grant Money At Risk

Justice Dept. tells 9 sanctuary cities grant money at risk

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. It said in a news release that New York City's gang murders are "the predictable outcome of the city's "soft on crime" stance".

Police Commissioner James O'Neill called the DOJ's accusation a "willful disregard for the facts", highlighting the city's swift and steady decline in violent crime over the last three decades.

State corrections officials issued a brief statement saying the Board of State and Community Corrections is reviewing the letter, and that it "complies" with the federal law referenced in the Justice Department letter.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.

Officials from those cities which were sent the letters must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law. He said the city is safe, thanks to policies that encourage cooperation between police and immigrant communities.

In a statement, the DOJ claimed that numerous jurisdictions are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime".

New York's murder tally is one of the lowest in the nation, according to data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Year to date, the city is down an additional 17 percent from last year's record low.

Eight and a half million people live in New York City.

The letters went to so-called "sanctuary cities" the DOJ's inspector general has previously said have rules that limit information available to US immigration officials.

New York City's mayor says the Justice Department's claims about its violence are "out of touch with reality". Following the report, the Obama administration warned cities that they could miss out on grant money if they did not comply with the law, but it never actually withheld funds.

Immigrant rights groups painted the DOJ's move as "senseless and hypocritical".

The report said the jurisdictions have local rules or regulations that interfere with local law enforcement's ability to share information with federal authorities about the immigration status of people in custody.

"We did not become the safest big city in America by becoming 'soft on crime, ' a visibly irritated DeBlasio said".

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

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