"This lawsuit represents Seattle's attempt to mute histrionics in favor of a plain statement of the law", Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes said Wednesday.
Seattle's lawsuit, one of many legal responses expected of major sanctuary jurisdictions, comes three days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Department of Justice would pull federal grants from cities and counties that refuse to assist the administration in detaining and deporting criminal aliens. "We have the law on our side: the federal government can not compel our police department to enforce federal immigration law and can not use our federal dollars to coerce Seattle into turning our backs on our immigrant and refugee communities".
Seattle is not the first sanctuary city to file a legal complaint over Mr. Trump's executive order.
In its lawsuit, Seattle is also asking a judge to rule on whether the executive branch is in breach of the 10th Amendment, which limits the government's power to commandeer state entities to enforce federal regulations.
"Seattle will not be bullied by this White House or this administration", Mayor Ed Murray (D) said Wednesday. The president's team hopes to make its case against sanctuary cities with stats and anecdotes, clearly showing that it is the local government policies that are putting the lives of Americans at risk.
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The order accused the sanctuary cities of causing "immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic".
States and cities are not obligated to enforce federal immigration law or to comply with requests from federal officials to detain those in the country illegally exclusively on the basis of their immigration status.
Sessions went on to say in his speech that the Department of Justice will cut funding to sanctuary cities if they do not begin following federal immigration laws. "My office will continue to ensure local governments have the tools they need to legally protect their immigrant communities - and we won't stop fighting to beat back President Trump's un-American immigration policies". The federal government also can't punish local governments with the threat of pulling federal funding unless it's relevant to the program, which is what the administration is doing, argues Holmes. Sometimes, local jails will decline to honor U.S. Department of Homeland Security "detainer requests". While led by the City, other jurisdictions are welcome and encouraged to join this effort.
According to federal law, they are required to inform the feds whenever they have an illegal immigrant in custody, even if he or she is not guilty of any crime.
During the latter half of President George W. Bush's administration, the use of detainers expanded as more and more local jails shared fingerprint information from inmates with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which in turned shared the information with ICE.