In response to a letter from the DOJ demanding information about sanctuary cities, mayors across the US pulled out of a White House meeting with President Trump.
Just hours before an infrastructure meeting between President Trump and US mayors, the US Department of Justice sent letters to 23 jurisdictions demanding proof whether they were “unlawfully restricting information sharing by law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.”
The DOJ letters claim that jurisdictions that fail to respond to the requests will be subject to a subpoena and could potentially lose funding from the federal government.
“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a written statement on Wednesday. “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law.”
In response to the DOJ letter, several mayors, including Bill de Blasio of New York and Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, decided to boycott a planned working session with President Trump later that day.
In response to the leaders who chose to play truant, White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters stated, “We are disappointed that a number of mayors have chosen to make a political stunt instead of participating in an important discussion with the President and his administration.”
At the scheduled meeting with around 100 US mayors on Wed, Jan 24, President Trump stated: “As you know the Department of Justice today announced a critical legal step to hold accountable sanctuary cities that violate federal law and free criminal aliens back into our communities.”
“We can’t have that,” Trump continued. “Can’t have it. It’d be very easy to go the other way but we can’t have it. We want a safe country.”
“My administration is committed to protecting innocent Americans and the mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans. But let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up. Okay? The vast majority. Because the vast majority believe in safety for your city.”
President Trump’s long ongoing feud with “sanctuary cities,” the jurisdictions that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation or prosecution by refusing to assist federal immigration enforcement, began just days into Trump’s presidency when he signed an executive order that sought to deny federal funds to jurisdictions that refused to share information with federal immigration officials.
The policy was permanently blocked, however, by Federal Judge William Orrick of California, who deemed that the executive order violated the separation of powers and was “unduly coercive.”
“The White House has been very clear that we don’t support sanctuary cities,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a press briefing on Wednesday. “We support enforcing the law and following the law. And that is the Department of Justice’s job, is do exactly that. And if mayors have a problem with that, they should talk to Congress, the people that pass the laws.”
The White House is scheduled to release a legislative framework on Monday, Jan 29, that will fulfill four pillars that the Trump administration deems as necessary to “fix” the immigration system: securing the border and closing legal loopholes, ending extended-family chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery and providing a permanent solution on DACA.
The framework was assembled after dozens of meetings with both Republican and Democrat leadership and “represents a compromise that members of both [the Democratic and Republican] parties can support,” Press Secretary Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday.