The United States Justice Department singled out four cities and a county on Thursday for allegedly having so-called "sanctuary policies" that may violate a federal law that says local governments can not limit information sharing with US immigration officials.
The latest salvo from the Trump administration does not specify why exactly it asserts the city and county are in violation, but gives them until October 27 to prove otherwise before the Justice Department reaches "its final determination" on the matter.
It comes after suggestions from Washington that New Orleans was a so-called "sanctuary city" that attempted to shield illegal immigrants from federal enforcement. Perhaps ironically, another major Trump supporter, Republican former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, memorably offered a dramatic defense of policies that shielded immigrants from persecution while running City Hall in the 1990s. Immigration is a federal matter.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson notified Mayor Jim Kenney that Philly stands in violation.
In September, a federal judge in Chicago enjoined Sessions' order nationwide, blocking the directive from taking effect while the courts evaluate the case. If implemented, the policies would also ban states from receiving grants provided by the DOJ and Homeland Security if they are found to be "sanctuary cities".
The Justice Department began stepping up pressure on Philadelphia and several other cities in April, when it warned in a letter that a policy of not sharing information with Immigration Enforcement agents violates the terms of a police training grant.
The DOJ also cleared four jurisdictions of failing to comply with Section 8 U.S.C. s. 1373: Milwaukee County, WI; the state of Connecticut; Clark County, NV; and Miami-Dade County, FL.
Some cities say they will only honor detainers accompanied by criminal warrants, and that compliance with the requests is voluntary and not required under the statute. It states that Philly police will cooperate with federal authorities as they investigate immigrants suspected of criminal activities but will not transmit the immigration status of any victims of crimes.
Kenney has been an ardent supporter of Philadelphia's "sanctuary city" policies.
Chicago sued the federal government in August over the threats of funding cuts being made by Justice Department. U.S.C. 1373 - states that a federal, state or local government entity can not restrict any government entity from "sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual".
The Kenney administration received the letter Thursday and is still reviewing it, spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said.