Just two weeks ago, I asked when the Department of Justice’s final funding cutoff date for sanctuary cites that refuse to comply with immigration laws might actually be its last-chance warning. I wrote that in April, August, and October, DOJ advised sanctuary cites that defy Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents requests to hold criminal aliens for possible removal would lose part of their federal funding. But so far, nothing.
The new deadline is December 8 by which time 29 sanctuary cities, counties, and states—Illinois, Oregon and Vermont— will have to prove that they are in compliance with immigration law or they’ll face reduced federal grants. In 29 separate letters sent to jurisdictions as large as Los Angeles and as small as Lawrence, MA., DOJ advised officials that to qualify for public safety grants under the Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, they must prove compliance with Section 1373 of 8 U.S. Code by Dec. 8. Last year, the 29 jurisdictions received an aggregate $16.7 million, and Los Angeles with $1.9 million was the largest benefactor.
Other California cities in addition to Los Angeles that received DOJ letters are Berkeley, Contra Costa County, Fremont, Monterey County, Riverside County, Sacramento County, San Francisco City and County, Santa Ana, Santa Clara County, Sonoma County, and Watsonville.
Immigration analysts estimate the number of sanctuaries nationwide is about 300 which means that roughly 10 percent received non-compliance alerts. California State, Contra Costa County, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia have filed law suits against DOJ, and some have won at least partial court victories.
No one knows if recent DOJ letters will be the last. But with the prospect of more litigation likely, it seems likely that December 8 will come and go without action against the sanctuaries.