U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a stern warning to 23 jurisdictions today, asking for records that could show whether they’re unlawfully withholding information from federal immigration authorities or they would face subpoenas. The move escalates President Donald Trump’s administration battle with so-called “Sanctuary Cities” that protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
Among those that received the DOJ notice are the states of California, Illinois and Oregon. The Justice Department said it was seeking records from 23 jurisdictions and will issue subpoenas if they do not comply fully and promptly. The United States’ three largest cities – New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles – are included in those 23.
The administration has accused sanctuary cities of violating a federal law that prohibits local governments from restricting information about the immigration status of people arrested from being shared with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
Democratic mayors have fired back at the Trump administration. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and other mayors who had been invited to the White House on Wednesday declined the invitation because of the Justice Department’s crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities.
“The Trump Justice Department can try to intimidate us with legal threats, but we will never abandon our values as a welcoming city or the rights of Chicago residents,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s actions undermine public safety by jeopardizing our philosophy of community policing, as they attempt to drive a wedge between immigrant communities and the police who serve them.”