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Hancock knocks Trump for 'sanctuaries' threat, and Trump didn't mind

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told us how he really feels about the Department of Justice coming after "sanctuaries" across the country.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told us how he really feels about the Department of Justice coming after "sanctuaries" across the country.

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Hancock, a Democrat, wrote:

"Denver doesn’t violate federal law, and we won’t be intimidated. And on the same day he has the audacity to invite mayors to the WH to discuss infrastructure. No, won’t be going to the WH today, better things to do than be part of a photo op for 45 as he threatens cities again."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent letters to 23 governments earlier in the day, saying that need to show that they are complying with immigration officials if they want to receive any more money through Byrne JAG grants. Those federal grants fund various local law enforcement programs.

The Dept. of Justice addressed Denver's letter to Denver Police Chief Robert White.

"The Department remains concerned that your jurisdiction’s laws, policies, or practices may violate section 1373, or, at a minimum, that they may be interpreted or applied in a manner inconsistent with section 1373."

The "section 1373" refers to a federal statute regarding the information that local agencies give to immigration officials, including someone's immigration status. Citifies are not allowed to prohibit communication with ICE.

Denver doesn't go out of its way to help immigration agents, and it doesn't legally have to. Denver did pass an ordinance in the summer that says city employees, including police, won't ask about immigration status and the city won't detain anyone directly on behalf of ICE. The sheriff's office will notify ICE if an inmate is going to be released "to the extent that (the sheriff's office is) able."

"We don't believe that this kind of pressure on cities is appropriate," said Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson. "We think that it's another step in the federal government's effort to try to commandeer the cities and try to get the cities to do the job that the federal government should be doing."

In his official statement, Hancock said Denver is not in violation of any federal law.

“This is a destructive ploy by the Trump Administration’s lawyers to politicize a routine exchange of information. We will repeat what we have said time and again, Denver does not violate section 1373 and complies with all federal laws. These threats are blatant attempts to distract the American people from the real news, namely that the Mueller investigation is turning up the heat on a dysfunctional presidency.

“Denver won’t back down. We are joined by dozens of other communities, resolute in opposing chaotic and poorly reasoned overreach by Attorney General Sessions and we will not stand down from doing what is right. There are hundreds of Mayors in DC who have been invited by Trump to the White House today. I refuse to meet with the President under these kinds of threats and fearmongering.

“As a reminder to our community, every step we take and the role of our law enforcement is to maintain the highest level of safety for all our people including our immigrants.”

Hancock was originally invited to the White House event hosted by President Trump, along with many other mayors who were in Washington D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Hancock's office tells 9NEWS that Hancock RSVP'd that he would attend, but he actually considered ditching before Wednesday because he thought this the event was a photo opp, a spokesperson says. According to Hancock's office, the DOJ letter made it official for the mayor, and he decided not to go.

WATCH: Hancock wasn't planning on attending event even before DOJ letter

At the event, Trump slammed mayors like Hancock and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio who chose not to show.

"My administration is dedicated to protecting innocent Americans and the mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans," Trump said. "But let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up. Okay? The vast majority. Because the vast majority believes in safety for your cities."

It's unclear if the "majority" of mayors who were invited did not attend.

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