‘Unnecessary Fight’ Over Sanctuary Cities Could Cost Police Funding for Years

The Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The U.S. Supreme Court is the quickest path to a national ruling that frees up $250 million and counting in Byrne JAG funds—possibly as soon as June 2019.

State and local governments might not receive their share of more than $250 million in law enforcement grants until the U.S. Department of Justice’s authority to withhold awards from “sanctuary cities” is resolved in federal court—possibly June 2019 at the earliest.

That’s assuming Chicago’s lawsuit against DOJ, the farthest along, sees an appeal that is taken up this term by the U.S. Supreme Court, which only looks at 2 percent of cases annually.

Otherwise circuit courts could be left dealing with the sanctuary city issue for years, with DOJ having ceased distribution of 2017 Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, typically doled out in October and spent fighting everything from gun crime to gang violence.

“There are potentially thousands of local governments that aren’t receiving their funding that DOJ presumably doesn’t have a problem with their [8 U.S.C.] 1373 compliance,” Amanda Kellar, International Municipal Lawyers Association associate counsel, told Route Fifty by phone.

Only 23 jurisdictions made DOJ’s list of those suspected of “unlawfully restricting information sharing by its law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.” One of them, West Palm Beach, Florida, sued the department for a declaratory ruling on its “welcoming city” resolution and settled the case on March 27, but no Byrne JAG funds have followed.

Pending litigation and the nationwide injunction in the Chicago case have delayed distribution, a department spokesman told Route Fifty in an email.

Kellar said nothing in the injunction prevents release of the funds, rather District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber issued one to stop the department from placing compliance conditions on the grants that likely violated the Constitution and exceeded agency authority under the statute.  

In DOJ’s motion for a stay in the Chicago case, now before the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal government argues that without one “the Department of Justice will be faced with the choice of delaying awards, to the detriment of states and localities across the country, or else foregoing grant conditions intended to guarantee that the incarceration of aliens by states and localities does not impede the federal government’s efforts to enforce the immigration laws.”

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio told fellow mayors and police chiefs Tuesday at a public safety meeting in Washington, D.C. that the city agreed, in its settlement with federal government, to email employees reiterating they obey state and federal immigration laws but that it wasn’t their job to check immigration statuses. But she saw a DOJ statement that West Palm Beach settled because it was going to lose the court case, despite the city thinking “we were on very strong grounds.”

“We felt like the Department of Justice was lying and misrepresenting our agreement,” Muoio said. “So those are the kinds of things that really don’t help those of us who are working day to day in the trenches.”

The department declined to comment.

Further exacerbating the situation is the fact Congress budgeted $415.5 million in Byrne JAG funds in 2018, a $19.5 million increase, which is now in limbo.

The $1.6 million Philadelphia expected in Byrne JAG funds represents about 10 percent of its non-fixed expenses for things like the lifesaving medication, Narcan, used as emergency treatment for opioid overdoses, Kellar said. Like Chicago, the city sued the federal government for withholding its award and won in district court, but the agency’s appeal is currently before the Third Circuit.

Litigation between San Francisco’s city government and DOJ and the state of California and the department remain in district court for now.

“When they want to threaten us in a way that we believe is unconstitutional, the cities will protect their interests and, of course, I think the federal courts are siding with us at this point,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said responding to a question from Route Fifty during a Tuesday press conference. “It’s an unnecessary fight.”

Landrieu, who’s also U.S. Conference of Mayors president, said he and Montgomery County, Maryland Police Chief Tom Manger have had “numerous meetings” with DOJ officials in an attempt to hammer out a concrete definition of what a sanctuary city is to no avail.

Manger, the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association president, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents “felt like for the entire Obama administration that they were vilified” and now the “handcuffs” are off. Acting Director Tom Homan is a career ICE employee, who believes “no one is off the table,” Manger said.

“If, during the course of targeted enforcement, ICE officers encounter individuals who are in violation of immigration laws and regulations, they may be subject to administrative arrest,” ICE responded in a statement. “As ICE leadership has made clear, the agency will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”

Of the 143,470 administrative arrests ICE made in fiscal year 2017, 73.7 percent were classified “criminal aliens” and 15.7 percent as “aliens with pending criminal charges.” That means 15,495 arrests, or 10.8 percent, involved undocumented immigrants neither convicted nor suspected of a crime.

The end result is that fear is instilled in immigrant communities, Manger said, which has a chilling effect on the reporting of crime.

ICE countered it works closely with state and local law enforcement to ensure foreign nationals who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking know about special visas available to them.

“If you show up to a domestic violence report and you ask the woman, who called you because she’s been raped, what her immigration status is, she’s not going to call you anymore,” Landrieu said. “And when crimes go unreported, criminals and rapists go free. And that’s what we’re finding on the streets of America.”

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: HUD Awards Unprecedented $28 Billion of Disaster Recovery Grants

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.