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Justice Department latest sanctuary city move on Chicago, Cook County

13 October 2017

The Department of Justice sternly warned a group of major cities Thursday that they remain in violation of so-called "sanctuary city" laws that shield undocumented immigrants from being reported to the feds.

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.

In August, the city of Chicago sued Sessions over its efforts to stop federal money from going to sanctuary cities through Byrne Justice Assistance Grants.

Similar letters were sent to New York, New Orleans, Chicago and Cook County.

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The Trump administration has taken a hard stance against so-called "sanctuary cities" like Philadelphia, claiming they leave violent criminals on the streets. 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 latest letter from the Justice Department to the city specifies five passages from executive orders or police memoranda that restrict what information is shared, including the immigration status of crime "victims".

The DOJ said it was the "last chance" for jurisdictions to comply. It determined Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and CT to be in compliance.

The DOJ claims that an NOPD policy "may" violate a federal statute that deals with how local governments provide information to federal immigration officials "depending on how your jurisdiction interprets and applies them", Alan Hanson, acting assistant attorney general wrote.

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The Justice Department said it had found no evidence that four other jurisdictions - Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Clark County, Nevada, Miami-Dade County, Florida and the State of CT - were in violation of the statue, known as Section 1373.

The executive order, signed by Kenney on January 4, 2016, directs Philadelphia police to disregard detainer requests unless they are supported by a judicial warrant and involve a person being released after conviction for a first- or second-degree violent felony. It states that Philly police will cooperate with federal authorities as they investigate immigrants suspected of criminal activities but will not transmit the immigration status of any victims of crimes.

The jurisdictions have until October 27 to provide "additional evidence" that their laws and policies do not run afoul of the statute or face the possibility of losing federal law enforcement grants.

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Justice Department latest sanctuary city move on Chicago, Cook County