The Trump administration warned 29 "sanctuary cities" this week that they must prove they are cooperating with federal immigration law by Dec. 8 to receive federal aid.
"Jurisdictions that adopt so-called 'sanctuary policies' also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a news release this week, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents."
The letters, dated Wednesday, were signed by Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Alan Hanson and were sent to local officials from Vermont to Oregon, the Journal reports.
Other jurisdictions included Washington, D.C., several cities or counties in California, and major state capitals like Denver, McClatchy reports.
Hanson noted that federal funding required the jurisdictions to comply with laws that forbid states and localities from ordering officials to not turn over information about illegal immigrants held in local jails.
Justice Department officials, however, declined to say what action would be taken against communities that did not show compliance by the Dec. 8 deadline, the Journal reports.
The targeted areas received Byrne Justice Assistance Grants in fiscal 2016.
The program is administered by the agency — and Trump officials have said that noncomplying jurisdictions should be required to repay previous allocations.
Hanson's letter also directed officials to inform the agency if they would comply with federal statutes if they are approved for the aid in the future.
Some of the areas have told the department that they already share the immigration information with federal officials, but have other policies that protect illegals, the Journal reports.
In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing Justice to deny certain federal grants to communities that did not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Last spring, California and eight other jurisdictions were notified that they could lose millions of dollars in Byrne grants for noncompliance.
Many jurisdictions have since challenged the White House on the issue in court — and at least three federal judges have temporarily blocked all or part of Trump's executive order.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Philadelphia stopped the administration from denying grant money to the city based on the laws outlined in Hanson's letter, the Journal reports.
In California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in October limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials but does not completely block all communication.
It takes effect in January.
The White House has attacked the law as a public safety risk because immigration will not be able to arrest criminal illegal suspects while in state or local custody.
Santa Clara County, Calif., is among the communities suing the administration over the funding issue. It contends the compliance requirements are politically motivated.
"Apparently, the federal government can’t keep track of who received taxpayer money," Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Dave Cortese told the Journal. "We demand that the federal government immediately rescind its erroneous letter."
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