WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Justice Department warning nine communities to prove they are complying with an immigration law or risk coveted law enforcement grant money (all times local):
A spokesman for Miami-Dade County in Florida says the county never claimed to be a sanctuary city —that's the name for a jurisdiction that refuses to comply with federal immigration authorities.
Miami-Dade is one of several locales that got warnings Friday from the Justice Department. The department says it will withhold important grant money unless the county follows a federal immigration law.
Spokesman Mike Hernandez says the policy in question was reversed in February, and the Justice Department will be notified.
February is when county commissioners approved a resolution saying the corrections department will honor all so-called detainers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That means it will hold people for an extra 48 hours, long enough to be arrested by immigration authorities.
A New Orleans official says the city will provide the Justice Department with proof that it is complying with federal law and cooperating with immigration authorities.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's executive counsel and director of federal relations said the city reviewed a letter Friday from the Justice Department. The letter warned that federal grant money could be withheld if the city can't document cooperation.
Zach Butterworth says the city has no problem and drafted its policies in consultation with federal immigration and homeland security officials.
Butterworth also says New Orleans police have no means or authority to enforce immigration laws or hold someone suspected of violating them. He noted that the law referenced in the Justice Department's letter was on the books before President Donald Trump took office.
Justice Department records show New Orleans received nearly $266,000 in grant money through the program in fiscal 2016.
The Trump administration has intensified threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities. The Justice Department sent letters Friday to nine jurisdictions warning it would withhold coveted law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation.
The letters went to officials in California and in major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans — all places the Justice Department's inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned the administration will punish communities that won't cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the U.S. illegally. money.