'Sanctuary' jurisdictions may have to repay federal funds: Justice Dept.

'Sanctuary' jurisdictions may have to repay federal funds: Justice Dept.

The Justice Department warned Denver Police Chief Robert White in a letter Wednesday that Denver might be violating federal rules with some of its so-called "sanctuary city" policies and threatened that the police department could stand to lose federal grant money.

The only requirement in federal law, though, is what's known as Section 1373, which bars jurisdictions from restricting or prohibiting the sending of immigration information about individuals to federal authorities.

The grant in question is also at the center of a legal battle between the city of Chicago and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a warning Wednesday to 29 local and state governments about their "sanctuary" policies on undocumented workers.

According to the letters, cities and states named will have until December 8 to show how their laws comply with the federal statue and should also describe how they would continue to follow the law if they receive a Byrne JAG Award for Fiscal Year 2017.

The Department of Justice Wednesday sent 29 letters to jurisdictions that may have laws, policies, or practices that violate a federal statute that promotes information sharing related to immigration enforcement.

The Vermont letter, sent to Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson, attacks the state's Model Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, which asks officers to avoid reporting the immigration status of victims or witnesses to the feds.

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It was that section that the Justice Department cited in its notifications Wednesday.

Now, the Trump Administration is lumping the State of Illinois in with 28 other jurisdictions it suspects have adopted so-called "sanctuary city" policies, firing off a letter questioning its compliance with federal law after Rauner signed the Illinois Trust Act.

Thirteen of the jurisdictions that received the compliance letters are in California: Berkeley, Los Angeles, Fremont, Santa Ana, Watsonville, the city and county of San Francisco, and the counties of Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Monterey.

A federal appeals court ruled earlier this year the Justice Department couldn't withhold federal grant money from "sanctuary cities", though the Justice Department appealed that ruling. The law, however, allows law enforcement officials to hold someone if a judge has issued a warrant. He also revised the eligibility guidelines for Byrne grants, requiring applicants to honor federal immigration detention requests, give immigration agents unfettered access to local jails, and comply with section 1373. Vermont would lose almost $500,000 in Byrne Justice Assistance Grants if found not in compliance, while Burlington would lose about $40,000 in federal funding, according to Sen. The Justice Department letter, obtained by the Sun-Times, pointed to that language in its letter.

Other communities put on notice by the Justice Department include Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., IL and Vermont.

The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday that the state of OR and Multnomah County are among so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that could lose public safety grants unless they prove they don't have laws and policies that allow withholding information from immigration agents.

Hours before Sessions announced the latest round of letters, a federal judge ruled in favor of Philadelphia in a similar lawsuit over the grant eligibility guidelines.