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AG Becerra: Local law enforcement, whose job is to keep our communities safe, cannot be forced to do the federal government’s job of immigration
New conditions placed on federal public safety grants violate the Constitution, deny our cops and taxpayers the public safety resources they deserve, and decrease the safety of all Californians
SAN FRANCISCO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for its unconstitutional attempt to force California law enforcement officials to engage in federal immigration enforcement, rather than allow them to use their discretion to determine how best to keep their communities safe.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice placed unlawful and inappropriate immigration enforcement conditions on certain public safety grants for law enforcement. This action jeopardizes critical crime fighting resources and threatens the safety of California residents. More than $28 million in federal funds that California uses for programs supporting law enforcement, recidivism prevention, crime victims and witnesses, and at-risk youth are at issue.
“The Trump Administration cannot manipulate federal grant fund requirements to pressure states, counties or municipalities to enforce federal immigration laws,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “By placing unconstitutional immigration enforcement conditions on public safety grants, the Trump Administration is threatening to harm a range of law enforcement initiatives across California. This is pure intimidation intended to force our law enforcement into changing the policies and practices that they have determined promote public safety. It’s a low blow to our brave men and women who wear the badge, and to the communities they serve. We will fight these unlawful federal actions that would make California less safe.”
Congress has appropriated $28.3 million in law enforcement funding grants to California through the Edward Byrnes Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program (JAG). Every state is entitled by law to a share of these formula JAG funds. For the first time, however, the U.S. Department of Justice is imposing two so-called “special conditions” on receipt of JAG funds to force state and local law enforcement to engage in federal immigration enforcement.
President Trump signed an Executive Order on January 25 seeking to withhold federal funding for so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions.” This Executive Order has been the subject of legal challenges. Pursuant to a court order, the Executive Order is subject to a nationwide injunction at this time.
Attorney General Becerra has consistently pushed back on the federal government’s threats over so-called “sanctuary jurisdiction” policies. In June, he led nine states and the District of Columbia in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, in support of the City and County of San Francisco, the County of Santa Clara, and the City of Richmond in their challenge to the Trump Administration’s executive order targeting “sanctuary jurisdictions.” In March, Attorney General Becerra filed two separate amicus briefs in support of the City and County of San Francisco and the County of Santa Clara, respectively, as they challenged the Trump Administration’s Executive Order.
In May, Attorney General Becerra joined four other states and the District of Columbia in releasing a report that refutes the Trump Administration's claims on so-called “sanctuary jurisdiction” policies. The “Setting the Record Straight on Local Involvement in Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement: The Facts and The Laws,” report outlines how the experience of many local law enforcement agencies has led them to conclude that public safety is better served by focusing their time and resources on combatting and apprehending dangerous criminals and establishing trust and cooperation with law-abiding immigrant communities rather than focusing on immigration enforcement.