DOJ devising legal strategies to shut down "sanctuary cities"

The agency's legal teams are looking for ways to force cities to cooperate with federal immigration law.
By Kara Menard | Jun 27, 2017
The Department of Justice will issue new challenges in court against cities who refuse to comply with Trump administration demands to report any undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. The agency's legal teams are looking for ways to force cities to cooperate with federal immigration law.

One option is for the Justice Department's lawyers to argue that federal law supersedes local police departments' prerogatives, according to a senior administration attorney who was speaking with the Wall Street Journal. Another would be to charge the sanctuary cities' municipal governments with discrimination against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, since the municipalities do comply with cooperation requests from other federal agencies.

The Justice Department is reportedly also seeking circuit courts that are likely to side with the administration in any immigration-related suit. It may find more over time, as Trump fills more federal judge vacancies.

Justice Department officials have their work cut out for them: More than 300 U.S. cities and towns have assumed sanctuary policies. Federal officials charge these communities with enabling criminals to find safe havens, but many local police in these jurisdictions argue that the noncompliance with federal immigration agencies is necessary because otherwise immigrant residents will not trust or work with them.

Some state governments are also entering the fray. The state of Texas enacted a law cracking down on several Texas cities that refused to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, although the law has wound up in court. At least 32 other states have considered laws against sanctuary cities this year, double the number that considered them in 2016.

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