The feds are giving what they call a “last chance” warning to New York that the city’s immigrant-friendly policies may cost it federal grants.
A letter from the Justice Department released Thursday said officials believe New York is violating a law requiring cooperation on immigration enforcement — one of four cities put on notice they were out of compliance.
“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” that section of law, Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson wrote to Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice director Elizabeth Glazer.
A law enforcement grant received by the city requires compliance with the law, the letter states. New York banked $4.3 million from the program, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, in 2016.
President Trump vowed to strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, which refuse to assist with enforcement and deportation against undocumented immigrants.
He has no legal authority to take away all funds, but DOJ has pursued a more narrow path, looking to strip the cities of certain law enforcement grants.
The city has said its policies are legal, and vowed to sue if money is actually taken away.
“We are reviewing DOJ’s response, and are prepared to fight to protect critical public safety funding,” said de Blasio spokesman Seth Stein.
Similar letters went to Chicago and Cook County where that city is located, Philadelphia and New Orleans telling them they’re out of compliance.
“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also 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,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
The letter gives the city until Oct. 27 to submit more documents proving they’re in compliance before the feds make a final decision about the money.
New York refuses requests by the feds, known as detainers, to hold undocumented immigrants arrested for most crimes and turn them over for possible deportation.
DOJ says this appears to violate the federal law’s provision that local governments may not restrict the sharing of information with federal authorities about immigration or citizenship status.
The feds also take issue with a city executive order saying cops shouldn’t inquire about New Yorkers’ immigration status. 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.
DOJ points to two other provisions on the books in the city, one that bars city employees from disclosing confidential information including immigration status — though that rule has an exception when disclosure is required by law — and one that says Department of Correction shouldn’t spend time on the job responding to federal immigration inquiries.
Two other jurisdictions that were asked to prove their compliance with the law — Milwaukee County and the state of Connecticut — were cleared in the letters released Thursday.