The Justice Department today told 23 state and local governments that they must prove their police departments do not violate federal anti-sanctuary law. Most of these entities have refused previous requests for information and may now face subpoenas. The Administration set a February 23 deadline for responding.

In a letter to the jurisdictions, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement—enough is enough.”

The targeted jurisdictions include the states of Illinois, Oregon and California as well as Chicago, Cook County, Denver, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York City, Sacramento, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach. Philadelphia, which is still pursuing litigation over the sanctuary crackdown, was not included in the latest push.

Last year, the administration identified 10 jurisdictions as potential sanctuaries, based on a list identified by the Obama Administration, and asked for contravening information. Some were cleared from the list and others added. In July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that any jurisdiction that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts will no longer be eligible to receive money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.
In October, Sessions warned five jurisdictions that they were in violation of anti-sanctuary law and risked losing Byrne grants. Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia then sued. Federal judges in Chicago and San Francisco issued nationwide injunctions that prohibited the Administration from adding additional conditions to Byrne grants. However, the courts said the administration can still enforce 8 USC 1373, a federal law that prohibits states and local entities from restricting communications with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau. Today’s notification is an attempt to uncover possible violations.

T​he 23 jurisdictions were told "The Department remains concerned that your jurisdiction’s laws, policies, or practices may violate section 1373, or, at a minimum, that they may be interpreted or applied in a manner inconsistent with section 1373. The Department fully anticipates your complete cooperation in this matter. Should you fail to respond in a complete and timely manner, the Department will subpoena these documents."

Read more in Politico.

Updated: Wed, Feb 7th 2018 @ 5:55pm EST