ALBANY, N.Y. -- Back from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C., Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is responding to a letter from the Department of Justice.

Albany was one of 23 cities receiving a letter this week from the DOJ, requesting documents to show they're not withholding information on the immigration status of people in custody.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan says labeling Albany a sanctuary city is about community policing. She says immigrants and refugees need to know they can report a crime without be asked about their legal status.

“If somebody commits a crime in the City of Albany, whether they’re documented or undocumented, they’re going to go to jail," Sheehan said.

Albany Acting Police Chief Robert Sears says he doesn't believe his department is violating any federal laws. The letter threatens to issue subpoenas if cities don't comply. The DOJ also added federal grants could be in jeopardy. 

The Albany police department receives a $64,000 grant each year for violent crime suppression initiatives.

"We're not going to ask somebody what their status is if they're going to walk into a police station to ask for a crime report or an accident report," Sears said.

According to Sears, they received a similar letter last year. Moving forward, Sears says he will be sitting down with the city's corporation counsel and the mayor's office to formulate a plan and deliver an appropriate response.

The city will have to respond to the letter by February 23.