DOJ to Louisville: Comply with immigration policy or face cuts in funding

DOJ to Louisville: Comply with immigration policy or face cuts in funding
Eunice Flanigan said immigrants have no idea what to expect with the confusion in immigration policies. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Eunice Flanigan said immigrants have no idea what to expect with the confusion in immigration policies. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - On Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter threatening 23 sanctuary cities -- one of which is Louisville -- with subpoenas if they fail to provide documents proving local law enforcement is sharing information with federal immigration authorities.

In the letter, the DOJ warned that Louisville would lose federal funding on some grants and programs if the city did not comply.

The threats stem from a city ordinance passed in October which separates certain roles of local and federal law enforcement on immigration issues. A few weeks after it passed, the DOJ began threatening grant money.

Under the ordinance in Louisville, public safety officials can assist ICE only with a warrant signed by a judge or if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) thinks the situation poses a clear danger to the public.

The Jefferson County Attorney's Office said the ordinance does not fall under the federal definition of sanctuary policies and does not stop communication between federal and local law enforcement.

On Wednesday, Mayor Fischer attended a meeting at the White House with about one hundred Republican and Democratic mayors to discuss sanctuary cities and immigration policy with President Trump.

In a statement on the meeting, Fischer said:

"My visit to the White House today reinforced my long-held belief that our country does best when people stop shouting at one another and start talking with each other.  I will continue to do that with a spirit of growth and opportunity for all."

Louisville lawmakers were divided on the issue.

Councilwoman Leet voted against the separation ordinance, fearing it would threaten federal funding.

Leet said the ordinance should be repealed and dealt with at the federal level.

"If we disagree with federal law, we need to work in Washington on that," Angela Leet, Metro Council District 7 said. "We need to not impact our ability at the local level to do what we need to do to provide a safe community for all."

District 8 City Councilman Brandon Coan said the ordinance is intended to take a stand for the immigrant community. While the city is facing repercussions, a young local immigrant waits for the federal government to decide on her life, Coan said.

"We want to repair the wound on a day-by-day basis in terms of regaining trust with people," Coan said. "There is no indication that the separation ordinance has not be a good thing to date."

Eunice Flanigan is an immigrant and a DACA recipient. Since the program ended in October, she has no idea what is next, or if she will face deportation.

"I am told I only have so much time to be here, and then you are done and need to leave and I need to figure it out on my own," Eunice Flanigan said. "There has been back and forth for many years."

Flanigan said immigration reform needs to be taken.

"The federal government needs to make a decision," Flanigan said. "It is very back and forth and our lives shouldn't be juggled because we are all people."

A Kentucky lawmaker filed a bill on Tuesday in the state legislature to restrict state funding to cities in Kentucky which do not comply with the Trump administration's immigration rules.

If passed, that bill would strip Louisville of approximately $36.5 million in state funding.

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