BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) California was in the crosshairs Wednesday as part of a federal crackdown on illegal immigration. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block state laws that protect undocumented immigrants. That announcement raises questions about whether Burlington could be the next target.
Mayor Miro Weinberger said the city is looking at lawsuit but he reiterated Wednesday he's confident the city is following the law.
Last year, both the state of Vermont and Burlington got warning letters from the Justice Department, along with a couple dozen other jurisdictions around the country. The department demanded proof from local law enforcement that they aren't illegally withholding information from U.S. immigration authorities. At risk-- public safety grants that the feds threatened to take away if cities and states didn't cooperate.
Weinberger said he believes California's laws are different in a number of ways.
"Burlington still believes we are complying with federal law. We've gone through a couple of rounds of articulating to the Department of Justice why we believe we are in compliance with federal law, why the way in which we have long policed the community both helps keep the community safe and is consistent," said Weinberger, D-Burlington. "There is no reason to think that what happened in California is exactly comparable to what might be next in our suit."
The mayor says one of the concerns from the Department of Justice was the way Burlington's policing policy was implemented may have violated federal laws. The mayor says at the end of last month they sent documentation proving that they aren't. The city is now awaiting a response.
The state of Vermont also got a letter initially but the state then updated its policing policy. And they didn't get a second letter.