By Sarah N. Lynch and Mica Rosenberg
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States Justice Department singled out four cities and a county on Thursday for allegedly having so-called “sanctuary policies” that may violate a federal law that says local governments cannot limit information sharing with U.S. immigration officials.
The department said New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and Cook County in Illinois along with its largest city Chicago, “have preliminarily been found” to have policies that violate the law. It is giving those jurisdictions until Oct. 27 to provide evidence demonstrating compliance.
If the government finds the cities and county are violating the statute that calls for information sharing with federal immigration officials, it says it could decide to cut federal funds for law enforcement.
The Justice Department said it had found no evidence that four other jurisdictions – Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Clark County, Nevada, Miami-Dade County, Florida and the State of Connecticut – were in violation of the statue, known as Section 1373.
The determinations came after the Justice Department earlier in the year had asked several local jurisdictions to detail their compliance with the law in order to make a determination about their eligibility for certain federal grants.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the cities still in the department’s crosshairs “adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law.”
The sanctuary jurisdictions say they are following the law, which says local authorities cannot prevent information exchange with federal immigration agents about people’s immigration status.
The Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu and the superintendent of the police department said the city was in “full compliance” with the statute but added that they would “not be the federal government’s deportation force.”
Seth Stein, a…