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Herring secures restoration of public safety grants

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A coalition of attorneys general filed a lawsuit in 2018 challenging the Trump administration’s policy denying public safety funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program based on unlawful immigration-related conditions.

Virginia is set to receive more than $10 million in retroactive public safety funding, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced this week.

“The Trump Administration’s decision to sacrifice the public safety of our communities for aggressive federal immigration enforcement showed just what their priorities truly were,” Herring said. “I’m glad that we are able to put this litigation behind us and free up years of unlawfully withheld federal funding that can now go towards crucial programs that will keep Virginians, their families, and their communities safe.”

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was imposing new immigration-related conditions on recipients of Byrne JAG funding and threatened to withhold funds from jurisdictions that did not comply with these conditions. In 2018, the DOJ sent notice to Virginia that it had to participate in enforcing the federal government’s civil immigration policies in order to receive Byrne JAG funding.

The conditions would require state and local governments to provide the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with advance notice of an immigrant’s scheduled release date from a correctional facility; grant federal agents access to correctional facilities to question immigrants; and report on and certify state and local compliance with DOJ’s new and expansive interpretation of 8 U.S.C. § 1373 — a federal information-sharing law.

Herring and a coalition of attorneys general filed a suit against the Trump administration’s DOJ, challenging the administration’s efforts to deny these grants. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York eventually ruled in favor of Herring and his colleagues, concluding that the DOJ lacked the authority to condition these vital public safety funds on compliance with the new immigration-related conditions.

The district court also permanently enjoined the DOJ from imposing the new conditions on the Byrne JAG awards, and directed the federal agency to restore the nearly $25 million in Fiscal Year 2017 Byrne JAG grants that Virginia and other plaintiff states were entitled to by federal statute, without the unlawful immigration-related conditions.

After appellate proceedings going up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the DOJ agreed to remove the challenged conditions, allowing Virginia and the other plaintiffs in the suit to access their withheld grant funds.

Joining Herring are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press