NEW YORK — Six states and New York City sued the federal government Wednesday, joining other cities and states that say the government is trying to unlawfully force “sanctuary” communities to engage in federal immigration enforcement if they want anti-crime funds.

Lawsuits were filed in Manhattan federal court on behalf of New York state and city, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts and Virginia. The federal government in July 2017 imposed conditions requiring cities receiving public safety grants to notify federal agents when illegal immigrants are about to be released from police detention.

Since then, federal courts in Illinois, Pennsylvania and California have struck down the conditions affecting so-called “sanctuary” communities.

Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley called two lawsuits filed Wednesday “a disservice to these states’ law-abiding citizens.”

“By choosing not to comply with a federal statute that promotes cooperation between local jurisdictions and federal immigration authorities, political leaders deliberately choose to protect criminal aliens in their custody and to make their communities less safe,” he said.

The six states say they could lose a total of nearly $25 million in funds. In recent weeks, they were notified that they must participate in the federal government’s immigration policies to receive their money, officials said.

New York City is one of five local governments eligible to receive the largest awards, with $4 million headed its way, authorities said.

“Our message is clear: the Trump Administration’s actions are illegal and morally bankrupt,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news release.

“We have proven, time and again, that welcoming immigrants has helped make this the safest big city in the country. Any attempt to jeopardize the trust between our local law enforcement and immigrant New Yorkers will fail,” de Blasio added.

The lawsuits seek a judge’s declaration that the policy change announced last year and enforced recently is unconstitutional.

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