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DOJ threatens to withhold crime-fighting funds from 'sanctuary' cities

DOJ threatens to withhold crime-fighting funds from 'sanctuary' cities
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is threatening to withhold funding from cities struggling with violent crime unless they cooperate with federal efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

In letters on Thursday, the DOJ warned Albuquerque, N.M.; Baltimore, Md.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Stockton, Calif. that they would be ineligible for funding unless they give federal immigration officials access to detention facilities. The DOJ also wants the cities to notify the Department of Homeland Security at least 48 hours before releasing an immigrant in custody and honor written requests from federal officials to hold immigrants in custody for up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release.

The DOJ said that “a commitment to reducing crime stemming from illegal immigration” is now a prerequisite to receive funding through the department’s Public Safety Partnership Program.

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The program, announced in June, provides local jurisdictions with training and technical assistance to help fight violent crime in their communities.

“By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe,” Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBiden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden administration should resist 'slush-fund' settlements MORE said in a statement.

“We saw that just last week, when an illegal alien who had been deported 20 times and was wanted by immigration authorities allegedly sexually assaulted an elderly woman in Portland, a city that refuses to cooperate with immigration enforcement,” he added.

The DOJ said the four cities that received letters have levels of violence that exceed the national average and are "ready to receive the intensive assistance the Department is prepared to provide."

Last month, the DOJ announced similar requirements for recipients of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant programs, which provide cities funding to buy equipment, fund forensic research or train personnel.