President Joe Biden’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has terminated a Trump administration policy that allowed the federal government to withhold millions of dollars in grants to states that establish sanctuary cities and refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Two weeks ago, Garland issued a memo ending Trump’s executive order. Acting head of the Office of Justice Programs Maureen Henneberg, who supervises the DOJ’s largest grant-making arm, wrote that grantees, including cities, counties and states, would not have to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to receive funding. She stated, according to Reuters, that staff should “pull down and revise all solicitations that describe requirements or priority consideration elements or criteria pertaining to immigration. … These solicitations will be reposted and grantees will be required to reapply.”
On its community-oriented policing page, the DOJ writes, “The Department informed grant recipients and applicants that they will continue receiving certain Department grants without making certifications. The Department will also cease giving priority consideration to grant applicants that accept conditions similar to those requirements,” The Daily Mail noted.
Soon after assuming the presidency in 2017, former President Trump stated, “We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo that limited sanctuary cities on the grants they could receive from the Justice Department. Seven states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, as well as New York City, were affected by their sanctuary city policies.
In February 2020, a New York federal appeals court overturned a lower court decision and ruled in favor of the Trump administration policy. AP reported:
The states and city sued the U.S. government after the Justice Department announced in 2017 that it would withhold grant money from cities and states until they gave federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released. Before the change, cities and states seeking grant money were required only to show they were not preventing local law enforcement from communicating with federal authorities about the immigration status of people who were detained.
“As evidence has shown, cities and states have actively prevented local law enforcement from communicating with federal authorities about criminal illegal aliens,” The Daily Wire’s Ashe Schow reported, adding, “U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) arrested hundreds of criminal illegal aliens in September 2019, even as states across the country refused to inform them when criminals were being released from prison due to sanctuary city policies. In March 2019, ICE officials arrested more than 20 illegal immigrants after they were released from New York prisons without notifying federal authorities. In Illinois, Cook County ignored more than 1,000 ICE detainers in fiscal year 2019, allowing criminals back onto the streets to harm more U.S. citizens.”
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