The Justice Department ramped up pressure Wednesday on so-called sanctuary cities seeking public safety grant money, warning state and local officials they could be legally forced to prove they are cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
Officials sent letters to roughly two dozen jurisdictions threatening to issue subpoenas if they don’t willingly relinquish documents showing they aren’t withholding information about the immigration status of people in custody. The department has repeatedly threatened to deny millions of dollars in important grant money from communities that refuse to share such information with federal authorities, as part of the Trump administration’s promised crackdown on cities and states that refuse to help enforce U.S. immigration laws.
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Many cities have been openly defiant in the face of the threats, with lawsuits pending in Chicago, Philadelphia and California over whether the administration has overstepped its authority by seeking