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AGs Sue Trump Administration Over Funds for Sanctuary Jurisdictions

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and attorneys general from Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington are fighting back against the Trump administration's threat to withhold federal law enforcement grants. (NY AG)
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and attorneys general from Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington are fighting back against the Trump administration's threat to withhold federal law enforcement grants. (NY AG)
July 19, 2018

NEW YORK — Six attorneys general filed suit on Wednesday to block the Trump administration from putting anti-immigrant conditions on federal funds that states and localities use for law enforcement.

The complaint argues the Justice Department doesn’t have the authority to impose new conditions that adversely affect the ability of police departments to do their jobs. New York State attorney general Barbara Underwood said the White House is waging a political attack on New Yorkers at the expense of public safety.

"Instead of allowing New York's law enforcement agencies to determine how best to keep New Yorkers safe, the Trump administration is threatening to penalize our communities by withholding funding from the Byrne JAG program, the primary source of federal criminal-justice funding for states and local governments,” Underwood said.

The federal government is arguing that it needs the cooperation of local law enforcement for immigration agents to do their jobs. Attorneys general say the new conditions violate the law.

Underwood said the Trump administration does not have the right to require state and local police to act as federal immigration agents.

"They know first-hand that public safety depends on building trust with the communities they serve,” Underwood said. “If you witness a crime or are the victim of domestic violence, you should be able to call the police and not worry about whether that call will lead to your deportation."

As a result of the administration's actions, New York State alone could lose nearly $9 million in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant funds for fiscal year 2017. The six states that sued could lose a total of nearly $25 million.

Linda Barr, Public News Service - NY