Justice Department calls New York City 'soft on crime'

Calling New York "soft on crime", pointing out that murders in Chicago have "skyrocketed", and criticizing law enforcement in the Bay Area with seeming to be "more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants" than cracking down on gang members, the Trump Administration on Friday fired shots across the bows of nine jurisdictions, including Milwaukee, reminding them to enforce immigration law or risk losing federal money.

The DOJ sent letters to officials in the state of California and eight localities: New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee and Sacramento.

The Trump administration is moving beyond rhetoric in its effort to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

"The Justice Department's release this afternoon stating that New York City is somehow "soft on crime" and continues to see 'gang murder after gang murder, ' demonstrates a willful disregard for the facts", NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement.

"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future [Office of Justice] grants or subgrants, or other action, as appropriate", acting Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Harten wrote in letters to local officials. The Justice Department sent letters Friday to nine jurisdictions warning it would withhold coveted law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation.

It is an extension of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' repeated threats to crack down on sanctuary communities by denying or stripping them of grant money.

While murders and other violence are on the rise in some major cities, most scholars have concluded that crime remains near historic lows and that immigrants commit fewer crimes than US -born citizens. Cook County, Illinois also received a warning, even though it did not get money from the Justice Department past year.

Zach Butterworth, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's executive counsel and director of federal relations, said the city drafted its policies in consultation with federal immigration and Homeland Security officials.

Butterworth said the New Orleans Police Department has seen a 28 percent drop in calls for service from people with limited English since November.

"Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration".

He rejected the Trump administration's statements linking crime and illegal immigration. The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office, for example, has a policy to decline all requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep a suspected deportable immigrant in its custody long enough for immigration authorities to arrest the person unless that person is charged with certain violent crimes, according to the report. "My far greater concern is the proactive dissemination of misinformation, fear, and intolerance".

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