On Wednesday, the Justice Department sent a warning to 23 cities that subpoenas would be issued if they fail to produce information showing whether they are complying with federal immigration law enforcement officials.
The leaders of those jurisdictions, all of whom were previously contacted, were instructed to hand over documents that show whether they are “unlawfully restricting information sharing by law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities” and pursuing sanctuary policies,
“Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement to 23 jurisdictions, including New York, Portland (Oregon), Chicago and San Francisco,
A number of Democratic mayors who were in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors opted to boycott an event at the White House, favoring a press conference to assert they were being threatened with imprisonment.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who serves as the president of the conference, attributed the Trump administration’s “decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again” as the reason he refused to attend the afternoon working session.
“When the President is prepared to engage in an honest conversation about the future of our shared constituencies, we will be honored to join him. Until that time, mayors of both parties will work together to keep our cities safe, hold this administration accountable to its promises, and protect immigrant communities – with or without Washington’s help,” said Landrieu in a statement.
Standing beside Landrieu was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called his city a “Trump-free zone” and the mayor of Portland, Oregon, Ted Wheeler, termed the administration’s move as “one of the most disappointing actions from a White House in my lifetime” and claimed President Trump “has no moral compass.”
Emanuel maintained the letter from Justice was released today so as to distract attention from the administration’s alleged lack of a transportation and infrastructure plan.
The Justice Department, however, argued that the mayors were required to abide by federal law if they receive federal financial assistance.
“We’ve given them federal dollars – your taxpayer dollars – to cooperate with federal law enforcement,” Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the DOJ, said Wednesday on Fox News. “So what we’re saying is if we find out you’re not complying with federal law, we’re taking the tax dollars back.”
The jurisdictions were: Chicago; Cook County, Ill; New York City; the state of California; Albany, N.Y.; Berkeley, Calif.; Bernalillo County, N.M.; Burlington, Vt.; the city and county of Denver, Colo.; Fremont, Calif.; Jackson, Miss.; King County, Wash.; Lawrence, Mass.; City of Los Angeles, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Monterey County, Calif.; Sacramento County, Calif.; the city and county of San Francisco; Sonoma County, Calif.; Watsonville, Calif.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; the state of Illinois and the state of Oregon.