U.S. Department of Justice threatens Watsonville, 22 other jurisdictions

WATSONVILLE — The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday demanded documents from 23 jurisdictions that protect undocumented immigrants, in another strike by President Donald Trump’s administration against so-called sanctuary cities.

The City of Watsonville joins such jurisdictions as Chicago, Ill., Jackson, Miss. and the State of Oregon that must hand over documents showing how local police share information with federal immigration authorities about their contacts with people in the country illegally.

A letter to the jurisdictions threatens a federal subpoena for failing to comply.

“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement — enough is enough.”

The Watsonville City Council in April reaffirmed Watsonville a sanctuary city, a move taken by jurisdictions through the U.S. that essentially limits cooperation with federal immigration officials.

In November, Sessions sent a letter to sanctuary cities, threatening them with the loss of federal funding for failing to comply with immigration laws. A federal judge blocked the move two days later. Trump appealed that decision.

Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst said he had not yet seen the letter, but reaffirmed the city’s sanctuary policy.

“Let’s try and protect our residents as well as we can,” he said. “The city has no intent to harbor those with violent criminal behaviors, warrants, those committing domestic and property crimes, or to withhold information on felons sought by the feds. But there are many dreamers and TPS holders who have peacefully lived in the community for many years whose families may suffer by the lack of effective immigration reform.”

Hurst said that Watsonville should not be responsible for the failure by the federal government to establish workable immigration policies.

“Our job is to find enough resources to uphold local laws, not do the fed’s work,” he said.


Jurisdictions threatened by the U.S. Department of Justice

• Chicago, Illinois

• Cook County, Illinois

• New York City, New York

• State of California

• Albany, New York

• Berkeley, California

• Bernalillo County, New Mexico

• Burlington, Vermont

• City and County of Denver, Colorado

• Fremont, California

• Jackson, Mississippi

• King County, Washington

• Lawrence, Massachusetts

• City of Los Angeles, California

• Louisville Metro, Kentucky

• Monterey County, California

• Sacramento County, California

• City and County of San Francisco, California

• Sonoma County, California

• Watsonville, California

• West Palm Beach, Florida

• State of Illinois

• State of Oregon


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