Justice Dept threatens sanctuary jurisdictions — California lawmaker issues rebuke

File: Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks during the daily White House press briefing.
File: Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks during the daily White House press briefing.
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Update 1:48 p.m.: California lawmaker rejects Justice Dept letter

The leader of California's state Senate rejects a Justice Department letter that says to comply with federal immigration enforcement or risk losing grant money.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon says the Trump administration is basing its policies on "principles of white supremacy" and not American values.

The Los Angeles Democrat says the administration's targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will continue to be challenged.

De Leon has been an outspoken critic of the administration's immigration crackdown.

The Trump administration sent letters to nine jurisdictions in its conflict with sanctuary cities, communities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities.

9:25 a.m.: Justice Dept threatens sanctuary jurisdictions in immigration fight

The Trump administration intensified its effort to crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, sending letters Friday to nine jurisdictions threatening to withhold grant money unless they document cooperation.

The letters went to officials in California and in major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department's inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increasingly warned the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.

In a statement Friday, the Justice Department said the recipients of its letters are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime."

The letters warn officials they must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law or risk losing thousands of dollars in federal grant money that police agencies use to fund anything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.

"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future O.J.P. grants or subgrants, or other action, as appropriate," wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs, which administers the grant program. It's the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.

Cities have resisted the Trump administration's threats. Seattle, not one of the places targeted with a letter, and other jurisdictions have sued the Trump administration over the sanctuary issue.

Earlier this week, Sessions accused sanctuary cities of undermining law enforcement efforts to fight transnational street gangs.

This story has been updated.