Sanctuary cities to be denied federal Justice Assistance Grant (“JAG”) funds
The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that sanctuary cities would no longer be eligible for federal assistance under the Justice Assistance Grant (“JAG”) Program if they continue to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The “JAG” Program, authorized under 42 U.S.C. §3751(a), is the largest source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. The JAG Program provides states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a wide range of program areas including law enforcement and prosecution. JAG program funds are used by local jurisdictions to equip law enforcement with a variety of items, from bulletproof vests to laptops. The administration has already allocated over $380 million for JAG funding in 2018.
The Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs announced the change in a press release on Tuesday, notifying sanctuary cities seeking federal assistance under the “Byrne JAG” grant programs of the new eligibility requirements. Effectively immediately, cities seeking federal assistance under the JAG program must “comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”
Sanctuary cities that continue to flout federal laws, continue to deny federal immigration authorities access to local jails, and continue to refuse to enforce federal immigration detainers, will no longer be eligible for JAG funding.
“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes” – Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions included a personal statement with the announcement, condemning so-called “sanctuary cities” for intentionally flouting the law. “So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies,” said Sessions, “make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”
Referring to the tragic deaths of 10 illegal immigrants who died at the hands of smugglers in a sweltering van in Texas, Sessions added, “These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law. This can have tragic consequences, like the 10 deaths we saw in San Antonio this weekend.”
Policy is a first step, setting the tone for future announcements
Sessions has been highly critical of so-called “sanctuary cities”. In a speech to law enforcement partners on July 21 in Philadelphia, Sessions blasted sanctuary cities for refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. “Some jurisdictions in this country refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and turn over illegal aliens who commit crimes,” he said, adding, “These policies are often called “sanctuary” policies. But they are giving sanctuary not to their law-abiding residents; they are giving sanctuary to criminals.”
In his speech, Sessions called for sanctuary cities to re-think their policies, “I urge the city of Philadelphia and every “sanctuary” jurisdiction to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their residents by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement and to re-think these policies.”
“Some jurisdictions in this country refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and turn over illegal aliens who commit crimes,… These policies are often called “sanctuary” policies. But they are giving sanctuary not to their law-abiding residents; they are giving sanctuary to criminals.” – Attorney General Jeff Sessions, at a July 21 speech in Philadelphia
Tuesday’s policy announcement currently applies only to cities requesting assistance under the Justice Assistance Grant program (“JAG”), however, in the wake of Session’s accompanying statement, future similar policy announcements seem likely.
President Trump told a cheering crowd in Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday evening that his administration was beginning a nation-wide crackdown on sanctuary cities. “The predators and criminal aliens who poison our community and prey on our young people”, he said, “will find no safe haven anywhere within our country.”