Sanctuary jurisdictions cry “coercion” in legal battle over public safety funds
Jennifer G. Hickey
Political leaders from sanctuary jurisdictions frequently boast about “resisting” the Trump administration, obstructing immigration law enforcement efforts and opening their arms to illegal immigrants. Unhappy with the consequences of their blatant disregard for federal law, six states and New York City are suing the administration for, they say, trying to “coerce” them into compliance.On Wednesday, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and New York joined in a multi-state lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court arguing that the Justice Department is blackmailing them by forcing them to choose between complying with conditions placed on federal funds awarded through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program or to forgo the funds.They want to endanger public safety and get their public safety funds too.The roots of the legal battle date back to July 2017 when the DOJ sent a notice to all recipients of the Byrne grants making clear they must “comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities,” and provide advanced notification before releasing an illegal alien in order to receive the grants.On multiple occasions, DOJ has cautioned sanctuary jurisdictions about the consequences of continuing to obstruct law enforcement authorities in arresting and detaining illegal immigrants. With no options left, DOJ began withholding the distribution of funds to the states in violation.In some other similar lawsuits, individual judges have entered temporary orders releasing the funds to local governments. Currently, DOJ is not releasing a combined $25 million from the Byrne JAG program.Lourdes Rosado from the Civil Rights Bureau New York attorney general’s office, who is representing the states, argued that withholding funding to states providing “sanctuary” to illegal immigrants is an “unlawful” attempt “to force States and localities to forsake their own policy judgments and aid in federal civil immigration enforcement.”The assertion that federal law enforcement was preventing localities from protecting their residents was a common theme among the sanctuary officials.“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,” insisted New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in a video statement.In a written statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo brazenly claimed the Trump administration was placing “New Yorkers’ public safety at risk to impose its abhorrent and un-American immigration policies.”“President Trump and Attorney General (Jeff) Sessions are assuming power they don’t have and literally putting lives at risk,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-Conn.) said in a statement.DOJ spokesman Devin O’Mallery reminded the sanctuary states that they are the ones endangering lives. By ignoring statutes promoting cooperation between local jurisdictions and federal immigration authorities, “political leaders deliberately choose to protect criminal aliens in their custody and to make their communities less safe,” he said.The best counterargument to the open border lunacy is being made by ICE agents.Since the beginning of FY2018, 66 percent of ICE arrests were convicted criminals and of the remaining individuals not convicted of a crime, approximately 23 percent have either been charged with a crime, are immigration fugitives, or have been removed from the United States and illegally re-entered.In the sanctuary state of New Jersey, ICE announced on July 16 the arrest of 37 illegal immigrants. Of those detained, 16 had been previously released by the Middlesex County Jail, which refused to honor the ICE detainer and 78 percent of all the illegal aliens had prior criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.So, who makes the best “public safety” advocate – the officials who protect those fugitives or the ones who remove them from our communities?