US Justice Dept. warns Vt. and Burlington over immigration enforcement

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The state of Vermont and the city of Burlington are under fire for their immigration laws.

The Department of Justice says both are violating a federal statute. The rule in question has to do with information sharing for immigration enforcement.

Federal officials are threatening to take away public safety grant money if local leaders don't revise their laws or prove that they don't break the statute.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "Jurisdictions that adopt so-called 'sanctuary policies' also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law."

The department is asking 29 jurisdictions across the country to reconsider their regulations.

Sen. Patrick Leahy's office says hundreds of thousands of dollars for Vermont, and tens of thousands of dollars for Burlington is on the line.

Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch have both spoken out against Sessions.

We reached out to Governor Phil Scott, Vermont's Attorney General, and the Burlington mayor and police chief Wednesday night. None of them were available for an interview.

The Governor’s Office sent us a statement saying it’s confident that the state does comply with the federal law.  Scott's communications director says the letter the Attorney General's Office sent the state cites law that was revised this year, so that what's being questioned does not reflect Vermont's current law.

Scott’s office added that it will work to make sure funding isn't unjustifiably impacted.

Queen City Mayor Miro Weinberger affirms that Burlington's rules don't violate the federal statute either. He said in a statement, "We are a welcoming city, and will remain so regardless of Federal actions that seek to undo the progress we've made as a nation. We will be responding to the letter by the deadline and forcefully arguing our case."

State and city officials will have until December 8th to prove that their laws don't break the statute.