Justice Department demands documents from 'sanctuary cities'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's administration on Wednesday escalated its battle with "sanctuary cities" that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, demanding documents on whether local law enforcement agencies are illegally withholding information from U.S. immigration authorities.

The U.S. Justice Department said it was asking for the records from 23 jurisdictions, including America's three largest cities - New York, Los Angeles and Chicago - as well as three states, California, Illinois and Oregon.

"If these jurisdictions fail to respond to our request, fail to respond completely or fail to respond in a timely manner, we will exercise our lawful authorities and issue subpoenas for the information," said a senior Justice Department official, reporting reporters on condition of anonymity.

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Sanctuary cities in the United States
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Sanctuary cities in the United States

Washington, DC

(Danita Delimont via Getty Images)

New York City, New York

(Photo: Getty Images) 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

(Photo: Rudolf Balasko)

Los Angeles, California

(Photo: Chris Pritchard)

San Francisco, California

(Photo: Noah Clayton)

San Diego, California

(Photo: Aleksey Butov)

Detroit, Michigan 

(Photo: Jumper)

Chicago, Illinois 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Minneapolis, Minnesota 

(Photo: Rudy Balasko)

Denver, Colorado

(Photo: Chris Rogers)

Baltimore, Maryland

(Photo: Getty Images)

Seattle, Washington

(Photo: Alamy)

Portland, Oregon

(Photo: Alamy)

Cambridge, Massachusetts

(Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL)

Berkeley, California

(constantgardener via Getty Images)

Watsonville, California

(Mark Miller Photos via Getty Images)

 East Haven, Connecticut

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Hartford, Connecticut

(SeanPavonePhoto via Getty Images)

West Palm Beach, Florida

(ddmitr via Getty Images)

Louisville, Kentucky

(hstiver via Getty Images)

New Orleans, Louisiana 

(donvictorio via Getty Images)

Amherst, Massachusetts

(DenisTangneyJr via Getty Images)

Boston, Massachusetts

(SeanPavonePhoto via Getty Images)

Lawrence, Massachusetts

(DenisTangneyJr via Getty Images)

Somerville, Massachusetts

(DenisTangneyJr via Getty Images)

Jackson, Mississippi

(SeanPavonePhoto via Getty Images)

Newark, New Jersey

(Mary A. Brown via Getty Images)

Albany, New York

(cbell7153 via Getty Images)

Ithaca, New York

(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Springfield, Oregon

(Joshua Rainey via Getty Images)

Providence, Rhode Island

(sgoodwin4813 via Getty Images)

Burlington, Vermont

(DenisTangneyJr via Getty Images)

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The Republican president's fight with the Democratic-governed sanctuary cities, an issue that appeals to his hard-line conservative supporters, began just days after he took office last year when he signed an executive order saying he would block funding to municipalities that failed to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The order has since been blocked by a federal court.

The sanctuary cities issue is part of Trump's broader crackdown on undocumented immigrants living in the United States. As a candidate, he threatened to deport all roughly 11 million of them.

The administration has accused sanctuary cities of violating a federal law that requires states and local authorities to share information about people they arrest with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Other jurisdictions on the list targeted by the Justice Department include: Denver; San Francisco; the Washington state county that includes Seattle; Louisville, Kentucky; California's capital Sacramento; New York's capital Albany, West Palm Beach, Florida; and others.

Certain sanctuary cities such as Philadelphia were not on the Justice Department's list due to pending litigation.

The Justice Department said it has previously contacted all of the jurisdictions on its list but said it is not satisfied that they are in compliance with the law.

The Justice Department last year threatened to withhold certain public safety grants to sanctuary cities if they fail to adequately share information with ICE, prompting legal battles in Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

In the Chicago case, a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction barring the Justice Department from withholding what is known as Byrne JAG grant money to sanctuary cities on the grounds that its action was likely unconstitutional. This funding is typically used to help local police improve crime-fighting techniques, buy equipment and assist crime victims.

The Justice Department is appealing that ruling.

A federal court in California in November blocked Trump's executive order to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities.

Supporters of the sanctuary movement say enlisting local law enforcement officers' support in rounding up immigrants for deportation undermines trust in local police.

Some cities have said compliance as described by the Justice department is not required under the law at issue and that they will honor requests from immigration authorities when accompanied by a criminal warrant.

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Life inside California's largest immigration detention center
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Life inside California's largest immigration detention center
ICE detainees are seen at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A meal is seen in a cell for incoming ICE detainees at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Detainees exercise in a recreation area at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Men play dominoes at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Detainees exercise in a recreation area at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Men share a pair of headphones to watch television in a dormitory at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Female detainees read about a hunger strike at the Tacoma immigration detention center as they sit in a dormitory at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A communal area is seen at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A communal area is seen at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A razor wire fence surrounds the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A girl waits with visitors in the lobby of the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A woman lies on a bed in a dormitory at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
ICE detainees walk into the dining area for lunch at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
ICE detainees make phone calls at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A world map is seen on the wall of the visiting area at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The high-risk detainee visiting area is seen at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
David A. Marin, Field Office Director, Enforcement and Removal Operations, stands at the entrance to the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
ICE detainee possessions are seen in the intake area at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Immigrants sit in a cell for incoming ICE detainees at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An immigrant takes food into a cell for incoming ICE detainees at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Handcuffs for employees to use are seen at the entrance of the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Salvadoran immigrant Roberto Galan, 33, poses for a photo at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An ICE detainee rests his hands on the window of his cell in the segregation wing at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A woman lies on a bed in a dormitory at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The women's medical room is seen at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Possessions lie on a bed in a women's dormitory at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An ICE detainee lies in his cell in the segregation wing at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Women stand in a dormitory at the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), in Adelanto, California, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "ICE NICHOLSON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Makini Brice; Editing by Will Dunham)

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