Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Justice Department Threatens Funding Over Philadelphia Immigration Policies

Justice Department Threatens Funding Over Philadelphia Immigration Policies

A letter from the Justice Department released Thursday said officials believe NY is violating a law requiring cooperation on immigration enforcement - one of four cities put on notice they were out of compliance.

If the government finds the cities and county are violating the statute that calls for information sharing with federal immigration officials, it says it could decide to cut federal funds for law enforcement.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the cities still in the department's crosshairs "adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law".

A similar letter was sent to seven municipalities, including Chicago, New York and New Orleans. Though this rule is aimed at barring questions about immigrants' legal status, DOJ says it could be interpreted to bar NYPD members from requesting immigration info from federal immigration officers, which would be illegal. The city's lawsuit is over whether the Justice Department has the power to withhold Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants from governments that don't cooperate with immigration agents in trying to identify and possibly deport people in the US illegally.

The feds are giving what they call a "last chance" warning to NY that the city's immigrant-friendly policies may cost it federal grants.

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The DOJ says that Chicago, IL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA and Cook County, IL have failed to comply with a section of the law that prohibits government entities from impeding immigration agents. The DOJ sent letters to five jurisdictions, including Chicago and Cook County, warning that local officials need to send evidence by October 27 that shows they are cooperating with the Trump administration's demands in terms of increasing cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigrant agents.

Offending cities and states stand to lose money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (or JAG grant), which provided Philadelphia with $1.6 million in 2016 to spend on police overtime, training, equipment, courtroom technology and other aspects of the criminal justice system.

Kenney has been an ardent supporter of Philadelphia's "sanctuary city" policies.

The DOJ also cleared four jurisdictions of failing to comply with Section 8 U.S.C. s. 1373: Milwaukee County, WI; the state of Connecticut; Clark County, NV; and Miami-Dade County, FL.

"As you know, the city welcomed immigrants long before I was ever mayor", Kenney said at the time.

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