The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is accusing the Justice Department of using harsh and the”bullying tactics” to force cities to comply with its immigration policies.
The DOJ offered financial aid to 12 cities struggling with increased violent crime in June to help them combat gang activity and drug trafficking. But on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent letters to four of the selected cities—Baltimore; Albuquerque, N.M.; Stockton, Calif.; and San Bernardino, Calif.—telling them that in order to receive the extra funding they would need to comply with federal immigration authorities.
The cities’ leaders were ordered to give federal agents access to their jails and to notify immigration authorities before an undocumented immigrant is released from jail.
“By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe,” said Sessions.
The letters followed earlier threats by the DOJ in which the department said it would pull funding from sanctuary cities, which have publicly refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as the federal government steps up raids and deportations. None of the four cities that recieved letters have identified themselves as sanctuary cities.
Representatives from the four cities said their police departments book arrested individuals into jails run by their surrounding counties and states, and therefore are not able to allow federal agents into the facilities. The police chief of Stockton, Eric Jones, said the city’s officers do not enforce immigration laws.
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