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Several cities file legal brief to support Philly's sanctuary city status

Written by The Associated Press | Jun 1, 2018 4:34 AM
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FILE PHOTO: Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross speaks with members of the media after Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, Friday, July 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(New York) -- Several U.S. cities filed a legal brief Thursday to support Philadelphia in its battle with the federal government over grant money threatened by the city's dealings with immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The group includes New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, along with some counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The brief was filed with the federal court in Pennsylvania that is hearing the case over Philadelphia's so-called "sanctuary city" status.

New York City and other places also follow sanctuary city policies, meaning they limit how they interact and cooperate with the federal government over immigration issues.

"In New York, we've shown how welcoming immigrants has helped make this the safest big city in the country," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We stand united with Philadelphia as it makes the case that local policies that protect resident immigrants make cities safer. We'll continue to defend against federal government actions that would harm our residents and threaten critical law enforcement funding."

Philadelphia's policy is to turn immigrants over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement only if agents have a warrant signed by a judge.

But the Justice Department repeatedly has threatened to cut off millions of dollars in grant money if cities don't show they're cooperating with immigration officials.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said public safety is put at risk if cities aren't sharing information about immigrants accused of committing crimes.

Philadelphia sued the federal government last year over a move toward grant funding restrictions.

In the brief offering support, New York and the other cities said sanctuary city policies are essential in order for cities to provide the local services that are core to their mission.

"Creating appropriate firewalls between local public service providers and federal immigration enforcement is critical to building the trust with our residents that is required to protect the safety and health of all," the brief filed by the cities said.

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