A showdown between mayors of sanctuary cities nationwide and the White House ended in a boycott of a meeting with President Donald Trump Wednesday.
The announcement came after the Justice Department warned sanctuary cities that they could be legally forced to prove they are cooperating with federal immigration authorities in order to receive public safety grant money.
Department officials sent letters to 23 jurisdictions threatening to issue subpoenas if the city does not willingly relinquish documents showing they are not withholding information about citizenship or immigration status about a person in custody.
Defenders of sanctuary city practices say they actually improve public safety by promoting trust among law enforcement and immigrant communities and reserving scarce police resources for other, more urgent crime-fighting needs.
“Each one of the mayors up here cares more about the public safety of our people than anybody living outside of our cities. There is not a single mayor in this country who says please, if you’re a criminal, come on over. And if you’re undocumented, bonus points. This is a myth, and it’s pure politics. Let’s be clear about what this is, it’s the politics of distraction and destruction,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet that he would not be attending the meeting, which was focused on discussing infrastructure, drug addiction and other such topics.
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 to withhold grant money.