EXCLUSIVE: The Justice Department on Thursday delivered a “last chance” warning to cities suspected of having “sanctuary” policies to drop their resistance to federal immigration officials.
In a notice reviewed by Fox News, the DOJ announced that five jurisdictions “have preliminarily been found to have laws, policies, or practices that may violate” a key federal statute concerning cooperation with federal immigration officials.
They are: Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia and Cook County, Ill.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a written statement that sanctuary cities “adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law.”
“I urge all jurisdictions found to be out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents,” he said.
The statute in question generally bars local officials from restricting the sharing of immigration and citizenship information with federal immigration officials.
Sessions earlier this year said any cities and counties out of compliance could lose certain federal grant money.
However, a federal judge in September blocked Sessions from withholding those grants for now, while a Chicago lawsuit against the department plays out in the courts.
Thursday’s notice shows the Department of Justice is still aiming to make a final determination on which jurisdictions are skirting the law.
The Justice Department said the five cities and counties in question will have until Oct. 27 to “provide additional evidence that the interpretation and application of their laws, policies, or practices comply with the statute.”
Officials in those jurisdictions have defended their policies. After the September court ruling, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the decision “an affirmation of the rule of law.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, he called it a “clear rejection of the false choice that the Trump Justice Department wanted Chicago to make between our values, our principles and our priorities.”
Several additional jurisdictions had been flagged in a May 2016 inspector general report as having laws that might conflict with federal requirements. But the DOJ on Thursday cleared those jurisdictions, including Milwaukee and the state of Connecticut.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.