Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed on Tuesday that her agency has asked the Justice Department to look into policies that would allow for criminal charges against elected leaders who refuse to enforce federal immigration laws.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, Nielsen said that a request has been submitted to DOJ for consideration.
“The Department of Justice is reviewing what avenues might be available,” Nielsen told California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Harris had asked Nielsen about comments made recently by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan.
Homan said in an interview with Fox News that the Justice Department had been asked to “look into criminal charges for elected officials with sanctuary policies as they are harboring illegal aliens.”
Homan was specifically responding to a law passed on Jan. 1 in California that strengthens so-called sanctuary policies. The Trump Justice Department has taken direct aim at municipalities with sanctuary policies. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch immigration hawk, has moved to block criminal justice grants from being given to sanctuary cities.
Nielsen defended her agency’s request to DOJ.
“The context of this is of course not only putting my ICE officers at risk but also finding an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws,” she told Harris.