New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions are in a war of words over a Department of Justice statement accusing the city of being “soft on crime,” the Associated Press reports. DOJ said New York “continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.” The statement came in a dispute between President Trump and cities over immigration policy, with the Trump administration threatening to crack down on “sanctuary cities” that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities. De Blasio called the “soft on crime” label “absolutely outrageous,” asking why Sessions would “insult the men and women who do this work every day, who put their lives on the line and who have achieved so much?” New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill added, “To say we’re soft on crime is absolutely ludicrous.” He said his department locked up more than 1,000 people in 100 gang takedowns last year.
DOJ said, “It is New York City’s policies that are soft on crime. Those policies, implemented by New York City’s mayor and his administration, are directly responsible for a dangerous MS-13 gang member walking out of Rikers Island (jail complex) in February.” The Department of Justice was referring to the February release of an 18-year-old from Rikers Island even though he had been ordered deported by an immigration judge. The teen had been convicted of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor not among the 170 crimes the city considers serious enough to merit cooperation with immigration officials.