Justice Dept. Sues ‘Sanctuary’ Jurisdictions In New Crackdown Over Immigration Enforcement

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Attorney General William P. Barr announced Monday that the Justice Department would sue two so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions — including the state of New Jersey — over policies he considers overly friendly to those in the country unlawfully, as part of a renewed effort to get cities and states on board with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

In separate complaints filed in federal court, the Justice Department sought to block a New Jersey policy that limits how state and local authorities can share information with federal immigration officials and to stop a King County, Wash., directive that prevents immigration authorities from using an international airport there for deportations. King County includes the city of Seattle.

Barr announced the lawsuits in a speech to the National Sheriffs’ Association, saying they were part of “a significant escalation in the federal government’s efforts to confront the resistance of ‘sanctuary cities.’ ” He said he also was reviewing the practice of some state and local prosecutors who charge criminals with lesser offenses to avoid deportation, and giving non-sanctuary jurisdictions priority when it comes to awarding certain grant money.

“In addition to not being lawful, these policies make no sense,” Barr said. “Innocent people are routinely threatened and hurt by illegal aliens who local jurisdictions have set free.”

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement: “Once again, the Trump Administration is sacrificing public safety for political expedience. It’s no surprise that the President, facing re-election, has suddenly decided to challenge a policy we first announced in 2018. What’s disappointing is that my former colleagues at the Justice Department have agreed to go along with this election year stunt.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement, “It is no surprise that Trump and Barr are bullying King County for being a welcoming community that respects the rights of all people. Our ordinances rightly require that King County facilitate immigration enforcement directives only when accompanied by a valid court order. . . We look forward to our day in court.”

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