- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a direct challenge to Chicago on Wednesday, saying the high number of homicides is no coincidence for a city that refuses to cooperate with federal deportation authorities.

Traveling on Wednesday to Miami-Dade County, one of two jurisdiction the Justice Department recently cleared of having “sanctuary” policies that defy federal immigration laws, Mr. Sessions touted the benefits the county’s cooperation with federal authorities is reaping in terms of crime reduction.

“Miami-Dade is an example of what is possible through hard work, professional policing, and a dedication to the rule of law,” Mr. Sessions said, citing progress the city has made in reducing violent crime and homicides since the 1980s.

“Unfortunately, we have areas of the country that are not doing too well,” Mr. Sessions said. “In Chicago — a city with almost exactly the same 2.7 million person population of Miami-Dade — more than 433 people have been murdered just since the beginning of the year. That’s more than three times as many as Miami-Dade.”

The Justice Department has sought to compel jurisdictions accused of having sanctuary polices that shield illegal immigrants, to cooperate with federal immigration agents by threatening to cut off federal grant funding for those that don’t comply with federal law.

Ten jurisdictions were asked by the Trump administration to certify their compliance with federal law this year after the Obama administration flagged them last year for potential violations. Clark County in Nevada and Miami-Dade County in Florida received letters this month from the Justice Department certifying that they comply with laws that require state and local police and sheriff’s departments to share information with federal immigration agents.
Mr. Sessions said the certification means “more money for crime fighting.”

Other jurisdictions still awaiting replies from the Justice Department include the states of California and Connecticut; the municipalities of Chicago, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia; and Milwaukee County in Wisconsin and Cook County in Illinois.

At stake is millions of dollars in federal grant money that is supposed to go only to jurisdictions that comply with section 1373 of Title 8 of the U.S. Code. That law prohibits policies that restrict communications with federal immigration authorities “regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

Chicago’s “Welcoming City Ordinance” prevents illegal immigrants from being held on detainers for immigration authorities unless they have been convicted of a serious crime or are being sought on a criminal warrant. It also bars Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from using city facilities for interviews or investigations.

City officials have defended the policy, saying it helps ensure that immigrant communities trust local law enforcement and are not afraid to report crimes or come forward as witnesses.

But citing several example of instances in which illegal immigrants were released from Chicago jails and went on to commit violent crimes, Mr. Sessions said the city’s policies do more harm than good.

“These policies of sanctuary cities do far broader damage to the country than many understand. At its root, it is a rejection of our immigration laws and a declaration of open borders,” he said.

A recent survey of the nation’s biggest cities found an increase in the number of homicides reported so far this year.

According to data provided by 62 police departments to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, departments reported 3,081 homicides in the first six months of the year, an increase of 3 percent over the same time last year. Chicago led as the deadliest city, while homicide cases have spiked in others like Baltimore and New Orleans.

Mr. Sessions had a message for those who complain that cities risk losing federal grant money that is meant to help law enforcement and improve public safety.

“We cannot continue giving taxpayer money to cities that actively undermine the safety and efficacy of federal law enforcement and actively frustrate efforts to reduce crime in their own cities,” he said. “So if people of Chicago and these other cities are concerned about losing money, I suggest not calling me, call your city council and your mayor.”

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