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Sanctuary City Leaders Defy WH         03/28 06:03

   Ignoring fresh threats from the White House, city leaders across the U.S. 
are vowing to intensify their fight against President Donald Trump's promised 
crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" despite the financial risks.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Ignoring fresh threats from the White House, city leaders 
across the U.S. are vowing to intensify their fight against President Donald 
Trump's promised crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" despite the 
financial risks.

   "We are going to become this administration's worst nightmare," New York 
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Monday during a gathering of 
municipal officials from urban centers such as San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, 
Chicago and Philadelphia.

   As is the case in several sanctuary cities, they promised to continue 
blocking cooperation between city police departments and federal immigration 
authorities. They also vowed to prevent federal agents from accessing their 
schools and school records, and they openly contemplated employing cities' 
rarely-used oversight and subpoena powers to investigate federal immigration 
practices.

   The defiance that filled the New York City conference clashed with pointed 
warnings from the White House's West Wing, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions 
issued a dire warning to urban leaders who embrace policies that help protect 
immigrants in the country illegally from deportation.

   Such policies, Sessions said, "endanger the lives of every American" and 
violate federal law. He said the Trump White House could withhold or "claw 
back" funding from any city that "willfully violates" immigration law.

   Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of 
the $4.1 billion available in grant money to verify they are in compliance with 
a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration 
officials.

   "I strongly urge our nation's states and cities and counties to consider 
carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our 
immigration laws, and to rethink these policies," he charged.

   The debate highlighted the nation's increasingly polarized view of 
immigration.

   Trump won the presidency by appealing to white working-class voters in a 
campaign that regularly highlighted violent crimes committed by immigrants in 
the country illegally. Sessions drew from the same playbook at the White House 
podium on Monday, citing two recent murders committed by immigrants released by 
local authorities even though they were wanted by federal agents.

   City leaders insisted such examples are the exception, not the rule. 
Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym said immigrants in the country 
illegally are part of the "fabric of America."

   "It's not like immigrants are dangerous. They're actually the ones in the 
most danger," Gym said, citing labor and housing practices that discriminate 
against immigrants.

   Indeed, city officials on Monday shared stories of immigrants in their 
communities seized by federal immigration agents at their children's schools 
and at courthouses as they appeared as victims of other crimes. Gym said some 
landlords have used Trump's hardline immigration rhetoric to expel immigrant 
tenants.

   There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country 
illegally. There is no evidence that crime rates among immigrants are higher 
than native-born Americans.

   Trump has made illegal immigration a priority.

   He issued an executive order in January that directs the Secretary of 
Homeland Security to publish a weekly list of "criminal actions committed by 
aliens." The administration last week reported more than 200 cases of 
immigrants recently released from local jails before federal agents could 
intervene.

   Lourdes Rosado, who leads the New York attorney general's civil rights 
bureau, insists that municipalities have legal standing to resist what she 
described as immigration overreach by the new White House.

   "Sessions makes it sound as if we're breaking the law. But the point is, 
it's voluntary whether or not to cooperate," Rosado said, acknowledging that 
states and cities may have to resolve the issue in court. "Will they come after 
you? Maybe."


(KA)

 
 
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