16 states argue DOJ lacks authority to impose Trump's threatened cuts to sanctuary cities' funding

16 states argue DOJ lacks authority to impose Trump's threatened cuts to sanctuary cities' funding
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Sixteen attorneys general are arguing that the Justice Department does not have the authority to threaten funding for "sanctuary cities" by putting immigration-related conditions on federal law enforcement grants. 

The argument was made in an amicus brief aimed at protecting sanctuary cities and their police departments from the cuts.   

“The Trump administration does not have the authority to unilaterally transform state and local police into federal immigration agents — and they cannot punish a locality simply because it won’t comply,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a statement. 

"Attorneys General will continue to fight back against the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policies that threaten our communities and our safety," he continued. 

Schneiderman is leading the effort, which includes California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. 

The move comes amid the immigration debate in Washington, D.C., on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. 

The Trump administration has cracked down on sanctuary cities due to their refusal to comply with the federal government on the issue of illegal immigration. 

The Justice Department last month demanded documents from roughly two dozen jurisdictions to show if local law enforcement is sharing information with federal immigration authorities — and threatened to issue subpoenas if they fail to cooperate.

“Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement — enough is enough,” Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLaura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies MORE said. 

Sessions sent letters to officials in Albuquerque, N.M.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Stockton, Calif.; and Baltimore last year, warning that if the cities did not cooperate with federal efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, they would withhold funding. 

“By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe,” he said in a statement.