The United State Department of Justice has escalated its attacks on local governments it thinks are insufficiently cruel to immigrants, demanding that 23 so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions around the country turn over documents or face a DOJ subpoena.
In letters to the sanctuary agencies today, including the State of Oregon's Criminal Justice Commission, the DOJ, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, "is demanding the production of documents that could show whether each jurisdiction is unlawfully restricting information sharing by its law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities."
Sanctuary jurisdictions in theory, refuse to cooperate with the federal agencies enforcing immigration law, directing local enforcement to not share its information on immigrants with the feds. The DOJ, it came out last week, may try to arrest mayors of sanctuary cities.
The Trump Administration, which has branded immigrants as rapists and murderers since day one of the presidential campaign despite that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than those born in the country, doesn't like this. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Portland, a sanctuary city, in September and ranted about "the dangers of protecting undocumented immigrants who might be "pedophiles, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, and arsonists."
Wednesday's message from the DOJ is more of the same.
"Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law," Sessions, who once said he thought KKK members "were OK until I learned they smoke pot," said in a statement today. "We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government's immigration—enough is enough."
If agencies don't turn over records, they'll be subpoenaed for them. If they don't comply with the subpoena, they could lose millions in federal criminal justice grant money. Here's what the DOJ wants from Oregon:
All documents reflecting any orders, directives, instructions, or guidance to your law enforcement employees (including, but not limited to, police officers, correctional officers, and contract employees), whether formal or informal, that were distributed, produced, and/or in effect during the relevant timeframe, regarding whether and how these employees may, or may not, communicate with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or their agents, whether directly or indirectly.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who's in Washington DC for the National Conference of Mayors, addressed the DOJ at a press conference today.
Wheeler came out swinging, saying it's "one of the most disappointing actions from a White House in my lifetime" and that the DOJ has been "more than insulting" and "dangerous." You can watch Wheeler's remarks on CSPAN (at the 37:47 mark).
Here's what Wheeler said, in full:
This is one of the most disappointing actions from a White House in my lifetime. And the reason it is so disappointing to me is that it demonstrates a lack of a moral compass in the leadership of the United States of America. It is not only insulting that the attorney general would send a notice to us here today, knowing we are coming here and knowing that there is a delegation going to the White House to have a conversation with the president, and the president's senior staffers. It is more than insulting, it is dangerous, for a White House—any White House—to threaten duly elected leaders who are following the law, and following the United States constitution, with arrest is unconscionable. The people of this country should hold Jeff Sessions and the White House accountable for this action. They need to know that this is not what the people of the United States of America agree to. This is not the value of America. This is not who we are, fundamentally, as a people. And we will not stand for it.
And here are the jurisdictions the DOJ threatened today:
•Cook County, Illinois;
•New York City, New York;
•State of California;
•Albany, New York;
•Bernalillo County, New Mexico;
•City and County of Denver, Colorado;
•King County, Washington;
•City of Los Angeles, California;
•Louisville Metro, Kentucky;
•Monterey County, California;
•Sacramento County, California;
•City and County of San Francisco, California;
•Sonoma County, California;
•West Palm Beach, Florida;
•State of Illinois; and
•State of Oregon.