DOJ to Landrieu: prove immigration compliance or risk losing grant

Posted April 22, 2017

"New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable effect of the city's "soft on crime" stance", the DOJ charged in a press release announcing the action.

Friday's letters warn officials they must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law.

In California, Attorney General Xavier Becerra suggested the state would not comply with the demand letter from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He said the city is safe, thanks to policies that encourage cooperation between police and immigrant communities.

In a statement Friday, the Justice Department said the recipients of its letters are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime". Birmingham, in Sessions' home state of Alabama, had 104 murders past year amidst an ongoing spike in violence in the city, even though New York City is 40 times its size.

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The nine jurisdictions - which New York, Las Vegas, Miami-Dade, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cook County, California, and New Orleans - all have declared themselves "sanctuary" areas to one degree or another.

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% from last year's record low".

In a letter sent to the California Board of State and Community Corrections, the acting attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice, Alan Hanson, said California is at risk of losing federal funds if it does not cooperate with federal immigration authorities seeking to detain and possibly deport undocumented people.

"Failure to comply ... could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant", the DOJ's letter reads in part.

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New York City's mayor says the Justice Department's claims about its violence are "out of touch with reality".

The Trump administration has intensified threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities.

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

While murders and other violence are on the rise in some major cities, most scholars have concluded that crime remains near historic lows and that immigrants commit fewer crimes than USA -born citizens. They were highlighted in a May 2016 report by the Justice Department's inspector general that found they have policies or rules that interfere with information-sharing among local law enforcement and immigration agents.

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Butterworth said the New Orleans Police Department has seen a 28 percent drop in calls for service from people with limited English since November.