WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Justice Department on Monday ramped up its fight against states and municipalities that adopt “sanctuary” policies to protect unauthorized immigrants from deportation, with Attorney General William Barr announcing new lawsuits against the state of New Jersey and King County, Washington, where Seattle is located.
The lawsuit against New Jersey asks a court to stop the state from enforcing a law that prohibits state and local law enforcement from sharing information about criminally charged immigrants in the country illegally, while the lawsuit against King County targets a law that Barr said forbids the Department of Homeland Security “from deporting aliens from the United States through the county airport.”
“When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape. These policies are not about people who came to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society. Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes. This is neither lawful nor sensible,” Barr said in prepared remarks.
Barr also touted another recently filed lawsuit against California over a law that bars the use of private detention facilities. He said his department plans to step up efforts to target district attorneys whom he accused of “charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences.”
“Unfortunately, in various jurisdictions, so-called ‘progressive’ politicians are jeopardizing the public’s safety by putting the interests of criminal aliens before those of law-abiding citizens,” Barr said.
“These policies are textbook examples of misguided ideology triumphing over commonsense law enforcement,” he added.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Makini Brice; Editing by Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler)
- U.S. Attorney General William Barr attends the “2019 Prison Reform Summit” at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2019.: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas