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Justice Dept Demands Sanctuary City Documents From California

Gregory Bull / AP

In this March 30, 2012 photo, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent waits with other agents outside of the home of a suspect as part of a nationwide immigration sweep in San Diego.

Gregory Bull / AP

In the latest in a dispute about whether sanctuary policies to protect undocumented immigrants violate federal law, the U.S. Department of Justice is threatening to subpoena California and several cities within it over sanctuary policies.

The Justice Department has demanded that 23 cities, counties and state agencies turn over any instructions they’ve given law enforcement or public employees not to cooperate with federal agents.

The Trump administration says it can revoke federal law enforcement grants to states and local governments that don’t share information with immigration agents, under a section of immigration law.

8 U.S.C. 1373 says “a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way 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.”

Cities have argued that section of federal law is unconstitutional, because it requires states to do the work of the federal government.

Judges in Chicago and San Francisco have rejected two broader attempts to strip funding from sanctuary cities—an executive order from the president and a Justice Department attempt to withhold future law enforcement grants. The Trump administration is appealing those decisions.

California receives about $28 million annually from the grants.

The jurisdictions in California that the Justice Department is threatening to subpoena:

  • State of California
  • Berkeley
  • Fremont
  • City of Los Angeles
  • Monterey County
  • Sacramento County
  • City and County of San Francisco
  • Sonoma County
  • Watsonville

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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