When your cousins in Rivendell have stopped speaking to you. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The Department of Justice has issued another statement ordering New York and other cities to comply with a federal law prohibiting municipalities from not cooperating with ICE agents, warning that this is a “last chance” before the cities lose federal funding to police departments.
The statement from the Justice Department follows up on a previous warning sent this spring informing cities if they didn’t comply with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, a federal law making it illegal to “restrict any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual,” they would lose their funding for Byrne Grants.
The last chance warning from the DOJ identifies Cook County and Chicago, Illinois; New Orleans, Philadelphia and New York as five cities slated to lose their Byrne Grant funding without changes to their current policies about cooperating with ICE. The Byrne Grant program distributes federal funds to municipalities to pay for “technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and information systems” relating to criminal justice. NYC received $4.3 million from the grant last year.
In New York’s case, the department identified an executive order barring police from asking about immigration status and classifying such status as “confidential information” city employees can’t divulge, as well as a local law prohibiting the Department of Corrections from honoring ICE detainers or informing ICE of a prisoner’s immigration status or upcoming court dates as violating federal law.
The federal government is giving cities until October 27th to change their laws, the DOJ said, before they reach what they called their “final determination.”
At a press conference earlier today, Mayor Bill de Blasio said objected to the DOJ’s characterization of the city being out of compliance with the law.
“We are fully in compliance with the law,” the mayor said in response to a question about the letter. “The NYPD deserves the anti-terrorism funding they have gotten from the federal government, and if President Trump stops our funding for the NYPD, we will see the president in court. It’s as simple as that. We are fully in compliance. The Supreme Court under Justice Roberts—in fact, he wrote the decision in 2012—said that the federal government cannot for political reasons withhold funding of this nature. That was reiterated in another court action recently. We are fully in compliance, and if they want to have a court battle, we are ready for that court battle.
Despite New York City’s status as a sanctuary city, ICE has still been active in the five boroughs, including plainclothes immigration agents arresting four people at Brooklyn Criminal Court in September, and a four-day sweep at the end of the month in which 45 people were arrested.