DOJ letter threatens MKE county funding over ‘sanctuary' immigration policy

County officials lash out at letter

President Donald Trump’s administration is threatening to take nearly $1 million from Milwaukee County, but county officials stood their ground Friday.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to nine sanctuary jurisdictions Friday including Milwaukee County, demanding they prove they are not in violation of federal law by restricting immigration information.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said the letter from Sessions and the Department of Justice was a threat, after it was sent to the media in a news release.

“It is clearly trying to imply something that is patently false,” Abele said.

Abele not only has a problem with the facts in the letter, but the news release that came along with it, which read, “Many of those jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime.”

“Nobody, nobody that takes public safety seriously makes statements that are factually incorrect and encourage people to have the wrong impression about crime,” Abele said.  “Immigrants and illegal immigration are not the proximate cause of crime.”

The letter says local governments may not restrict immigration information.

“We do in fact comply with all of the requirements of the federal law, we have to we're law enforcement officers,” Abele said.

The grant in jeopardy for Milwaukee County equals about $940,000 that could disappear.

Sessions spoke on the matter in California Friday.
 
"Enough is enough.  When city politicians force local law enforcement to release criminals from Riker's Island, violent gangs and criminals benefit.  Sanctuary jurisdictions put criminals back on the street," Sessions said. “Somebody asked me if I was concerned about dancing up to the edge of being a sanctuary city. The thing I'm concerned about is the moment, the minute we dance away one inch from the constitution the values this country is founded on.”

Abele said the county has attorneys working on a response to the DOJ’s letter.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has been very vocal on immigration issues, said his office would be providing a statement on the matter on Monday.

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