Trump seeks reconsideration of sanctuary cities ruling

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The U.S. Department of Justice asked U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick on Monday for permission to file documents asking the judge to reconsider or clarify his ruling in light of a new memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In order to make the executive order constitutional, Sessions states that sanctuary jurisdictions will only be blocked from accessing grants from the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security, "and not other sources of federal funding". The memo Monday applies to municipalities with laws specifically forbidding their police to notify federal authorities when an illegal immigrant is about to be released from custody.

For example, in a 2012 drug conspiracy case involving some 35 defendants, an assistant US attorney put Damien Mick "on notice" that if he sought to be released pending trial she would file an 851 motion subjecting him to a minimum 20-year sentence upon conviction, telling the court: "It's a hard and fast provision I have in these types of cases", according to the court transcript.

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On May 10, 2017, Attorney General Sessions announced a new charging and sentencing policy for the United States Department of Justice that requires federal prosecutors in all cases (absent high-level approval) to "charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense" - defined as those offenses that "carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences".

In a memo released on Monday, Sessions wrote that the term "sanctuary jurisdictions" used in the executive order refers only to jurisdictions that "willfully refuse" to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 ― which simply says that jurisdictions "may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual". "Going forward, the Department, where authorized, may seek to tailor grants to promote a lawful system of immigration".

The memo marks the first official guidance to federal grant issuers since the president's executive order in January threatened to strip federal funding from cities and towns that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. It sent warning letters to nine localities in April.

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Defense attorney Kurt Kerns said Wednesday he hasn't had problems with federal prosecutors in Topeka and Wichita, but his dealings with the Kansas City office have not been pleasant.

Orrick had originally challenged the executive order by saying cities that were under threat of being defunded could face "immediate irreparable harm".

While city officials say Providence does comply with federal law, they also acknowledge police officers don't go out of their way to assist U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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