Los Angeles

L.A. City Attorney Sues Trump Administration Over Justice Grants

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Thursday that his office is suing the Trump administration for the second time to try and stop the federal government from imposing immigration enforcement conditions on $1 million in annual funding for anti-gang programs.

Los Angeles was one of several cities, including San Francisco and Chicago, that filed suit over the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for the first time last year.

"Los Angeles again is standing up to the Trump administration's attempt to hold federal public safety funding hostage. Again the ransom is the imposition of civil immigration enforcement conditions on LAPD, conditions which would make all L.A. streets less safe," Feuer said. "Court after court has ruled this Trump administration overreach is unconstitutional. We will fight to uphold the rule of law and protect our city."

On July 25, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that new immigration compliance requirements would be placed on all Byrne JAG grant applications that would require jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration laws or they would be ineligible for funding. The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and several lower courts have issued injunctions putting a halt on those conditions.

The city has routinely received over $1 million each year since 1997 from the grant, which goes toward anti gang efforts, except last year, when the Justice Department issued the new guidelines. As part of the 2017 lawsuit over the Byrne JAG grant, the city sought and won an injunction. On Sept. 4, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles is expected to hear further arguments in the case.

Feuer's office said the 2018 application for the grant is materially identical to the 2017 Byrne Jag grants, and requires compliance with federal immigration enforcement laws.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Feuer's office have said they will not comply with the grant's requirements as they go against longstanding city policy to limit its cooperation on federal immigration laws.

Feuer said the city will submit an application for 2018 Byrne JAG funding by the deadline, but that since the city has yet to receive its authorized 2017 Byrne Grant funding, missing the 2018 grant would result in a loss of valuable resources for the city's crime-fighting efforts.

Sessions defended the new policies on the grants as necessary to help fight illegal immigration when he announced them in July 2017.

"So-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes," Sessions said at the time. "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."

In April, Real found that the Justice Department had abused its power by awarding bonus points to applicants for a discretionary community policing -- COPS -- grant that commit to cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

In seeking the new injunction, the city is arguing that precedent from the April decision supports the city's claim that immigration-related conditions imposed on JAG grants are unlawful, as well.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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