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Justice Department May Withhold Crime-Prevention Aid From San Bernardino Over Sanctuary City Status

An individual being arrested by an ICE officer during a May raid. (Photo by Ron Rogers, courtesy of ICE)
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San Bernardino is one of four cities that received a letter from the Justice Department on Thursday threatening federal funding over its "sanctuary city" status.

The communication comes in response to San Bernardino's request to receive federal aid (through grant money and training) via the Justice Department's new Public Safety Partnership Program that seeks to combat violent crimes in cities with high crime rates.

“Turning back the recent troubling increase in violent crime in our country is a top priority of the Department of Justice and the Trump Administration, as we work to fulfill the President’s promise to make America safe again,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a June statement announcing the program's creation. “The Department of Justice will work with American cities suffering from serious violent crime problems."

But in the letter sent Thursday to San Bernardino and three other cities (including Stockton, California), Sessions and the DOJ stated they will withhold aid until certain compliances are met.

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"By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe," Sessions' statement begins.

According to the Associated Press, the four cities targeted by the DOJ will be required to allow federal immigration authorities to access jails and question immigrants, as well as notify Department of Homeland Security officials at least 48 hours before releasing someone in the country illegally from custody.

"By taking simple, common-sense considerations into account, we are encouraging every jurisdiction in this country to cooperate with federal law enforcement," Sessions' continues. San Bernardino, and the other three cities, have until August 18 to prove compliance.

The AP adds that, should San Bernardino, Stockton, or the other two cities fail to comply with the DOJ's request, they stand to lose millions more in federal grant money from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program.

LAist has reached out to the San Bernardino Police Department to see if they plan to comply with the Justice Department's request, but did not immediately heard back.