New York Sues Trump Administration; federal funding measures interferes with local Law Enforcement

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Attorney General Underwood.

New York State has sued the Trump administration to block its efforts to punish so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions by putting immigration-related conditions on federal law enforcement grants.

The law suit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, a coalition of six Attorneys General led by New York's Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, argues that the Trump administration’s conditions on the grants interfere with the right of states and localities to set their own law enforcement policies, and that the Department of Justice lacks the authority to impose these new conditions.

“Local law enforcement has the right to decide how to meet their local public safety needs – and the Trump administration simply does not have the right to require state and local police to act as federal immigration agents,” Underwood said. “Instead of allowing New York’s law enforcement agencies to determine how best to keep New Yorkers safe, the Trump administration is threatening to withhold vital public safety funds. This is a political attack on New Yorkers, at the expense of our public safety – and it is unlawful. So we will see the Trump administration in court.”

As a result of the Trump 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 today could lose a total of nearly $25 million.

In July 2017, DOJ 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 June 2018, DOJ sent notice to New York State that it must participate in enforcing the federal government’s draconian civil immigration policies in order to receive Byrne JAG funding.

The conditions would require state and local governments to provide the 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.

Federal law permits states and localities to limit their voluntary involvement with enforcing federal immigration policy, and many have done so because they have concluded that fostering a relationship of trust between their law enforcement officials and their immigrant communities will promote public safety.

As the Attorneys General argue, the new conditions violate the law, including the following claims:

* DOJ’s imposition of the new conditions violates separation of powers because DOJ lacks authority to impose the new conditions under the Byrne JAG statute and other federal law.

* DOJ’s imposition of the new conditions violates the Administrative Procedures Act because it is not in accordance with the law and is arbitrary and capricious.

* DOJ’s imposition of the information-sharing condition violates the Tenth Amendment because it requires states and localities to comply with DOJ’s expansive interpretation of an unconstitutional law, 8 U.S.C. 1373.

The suit was led by Attorney General Underwood and filed by the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington.

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