Justice Dept. tells 9 sanctuary cities grant money at risk

The U.S. Department of Justice threatened on Friday to cut off funding to California as well as eight cities and counties across the United States, escalating a Trump administration crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. A spokesman for the New York Police Department, J. Peter Donald, responded on Twitter: "Did DOJ really say the NYPD is soft on crime?"

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city had seen the letter from DOJ and "(n) either the facts nor the law are on their side".

It demands that the cities provide documentation that they're complying with the law and aren't blocking local officials from sharing information about the immigration status of "any individual" they've come across with federal officials. Sessions has increasingly warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. He said the city is safe, thanks to policies that encourage cooperation between police and immigrant communities.

The release went on to call NY "soft on crime", talk about how murders Chicago have "skyrocketed", and said that officials in the Bay Area seem "more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next".

The grant was even named after New York Police Department officer Edward R. Byrne, who was killed in 1988 while on the job, and is meant to "honor his sacrifice", according to the grant's website.

Shootings, too, are down - below 1,000 a year ago for the first time on record.

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"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future. grants, or other action, as appropriate", Hanson wrote.

NY and the other jurisdictions face June 30 deadlines to comply or risk millions in federal money.

The mayor's office called the letter "nothing new", since it just reiterates a longstanding grant requirement.

New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said Justice's statement "demonstrates a willful disregard for the facts", adding that the city has seen crime drop overall, including major reductions in murders and shootings.

Immigrant rights groups painted the DOJ's move as "senseless and hypocritical".

Officials in Philadelphia, Milwaukee County and Cook County said they believed they were complying with immigration laws. "Federal threats to take away resources from law enforcement or our people in an attempt to bully states and localities into carrying out the new administration's unsound deportation plan are reckless and jeopardize public safety".

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