PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Five jurisdictions that have proudly bucked calls to cooperate on immigration roundups with federal agents received stern letters from the Justice Department.
“This letter is to inform you that, based on a preliminary review, the department has determined that your jurisdiction appears to have laws, policies, or practices that violate 8 U.S.C. § 1373,” each of the letters states, referencing a federal law that requires state or local government to let their employees share details about an individual’s immigration status with federal authorities.
President Donald Trump invoked the law shortly after taking office in an executive order that threatens to pull federal grant money from any jurisdictions that don’t cooperate.
Though a federal judge in San Francisco found the executive order unconstitutional, officials representing Philadelphia, New York City, New Orleans, Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, all received warning letters Wednesday based on their receipt of Byrne JAG awards, shorthand for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.
Milwaukee and the state of Connecticut received letters as well, but theirs say the DOJ found no evidence of noncompliance. Clark County, Nevada, and Miami-Dade County, Florida, both received good marks as well in previous letters.
Representatives for each of the cities that received warning letters meanwhile have been outspoken about their objections to Section 1373, which they say unconstitutionally uses local resources for federal matters that cause strife in communities.
“The NOPD will not be the federal government’s deportation force,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told reporters. “We will build relationships between the NOPD and all community members. The city of New Orleans will not be sidetracked by caustic, political rhetoric that seeks to make us fearful of others and scapegoat immigrants. The NOPD will continue to focus on the arrest and conviction of violent criminals, regardless of their immigration status.”
Landrieu insisted that his city is in full compliance with all federal laws, including Section 1373, and that the letter he received omitted the importance of Chapter 41.6.1 of the New Orleans Police Department’s operation manual.
"We continue to state unambiguously that Chapter 41.6.1 does not restrict officers and employees from requesting information regarding immigration status from federal immigration officers,” Landrieu told reporters. “Pursuant to standard training procedures, all officers and employees were notified about the policy in September 2016. Instead of fear-mongering and false accusations, we urge you to work with mayors across the nation to tackle violent crime through smart, evidence-based policing.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio likewise insisted that there is no danger of funding loss.