WASHINGTON TIMES — The Justice Department said Thursday it has warned sanctuary cities to quit shielding illegal immigrants from deportation agents or else lose federal grant money, putting some muscle behind Republicans’ push to punish cities and counties that have refused to cooperate.
That could prevent future situations like the Kate Steinle case, where an illegal immigrant was released by the sheriff’s department in San Francisco despite a request that he be held for deportation. The man would go on to kill Steinle, according to authorities, as she walked on the city waterfront with her father.
Justice officials confirmed the move in a letter to Rep. John Abney Culberson, Texas Republican and chairman of a key spending subcommittee, who had demanded action from Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch earlier this year.
Under the new guidance, local authorities don’t have to track down illegal immigrants, nor are they required to inquire about someone’s status. But when the government requests information, or when a local officer wants to report someone, the communications can’t be barred, the Justice Department ruled in its new guidance.
That could include situations when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asks to be notified when someone they want to deport is being released from a local prison or jail — such as in the Steinle case.