Fed Judge rules against DOJ

On July 25, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new stipulations as a means to ensure that local jurisdictions were cooperating with federal immigration agents and not working to shield illegal immigrants from deportation. The DOJ relase stated:

 “So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law. This can have tragic consequences, like the 10 deaths we saw in San Antonio this weekend. As part of accomplishing the Department of Justice’s top priority of reducing violent crime, we must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals. From now on, the Department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities. This is consistent with long-established cooperative principles among law enforcement agencies. This is what the American people should be able to expect from their cities and states, and these long overdue requirements will help us take down MS-13 and other violent transnational gangs, and make our country safer.”     [1]

Federal Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled the DOJ cannot add stipulations to Byrne JAG block grants requests, not included in the original agreement between the DOJ and U.S.  cities.

“Judge Leinemweber issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the….DOJ….from enforcing….two requirements while the case is heard. He wrote that Chicago….who filed suit against the new DOJ requirements…. showed a likelihood of success in its arguments and that he believed the city would face irreparable harm if it was forced to comply with the grant conditions.”

In his 41-page ruling, the judge noted that Congress may have the power to impose such grant onditions or delegate the power to do so to the executive branch but that in the case of this grant, Congress has not explicitly conferred that authority. [2]

Image result for image of DOJ shield

Conditions of Bryne Block Grants:

“Byrne JAG funds may be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, strategic planning, research and evaluation (including forensics), data collection, training, personnel, equipment, forensic laboratories, supplies, contractual support, and criminal justice information systems that will improve or enhance the following program areas:

  • Law enforcement programs;
  • Prosecution and court programs, including indigent defense;
  • Prevention and education programs;
  • Corrections, community corrections and reentry programs;
  • Drug treatment and enforcement programs;
  • Planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs
  • Crime victim and witness programs (other than compensation)
  • Mental health programs and services (added FY 17)

Because Byrne JAG is flexible, states and local communities are able to use the funding to address needs and fill gaps across the entire criminal justice system. This is a hallmark of the Byrne JAG program and one that is vitally important. See reports on the impact of Byrne JAG on the criminal justice system.” [3]

The judge’s ruling enjoinders the DOJ from “imposing a third grant condition, which requires that jurisdictions comply with section 1373 of Title 8 of the U.S. Code. That law prohibits state and local governments from restricting communications with federal immigration authorities “regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” 

The ruling blocks nationwide enforcement of two of the three new conditions the…DOJ….sought to impose on jurisdictions seeking funds through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, which doles out nearly $400 million to state and local agencies each year.

[1]   Department of Justice – https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-sessions-announces-immigration-compliance-requirements-edward-byrne-memoria

[2]  The Washington Times – http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/sep/15/doj-cant-withhold-grants-sanctuary-cities-judge-ru/

[3]  National Criminal Justice Association – http://www.ncja.org/ncja/policy/about-byrne-jag


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