Multiple AGs: DOJ Lacks Authority to Deny Byrne-JAG Funding to Punish Sanctuary Cities

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A coalition of Attorney Generals (AGs) from 16 states argued that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has no authority to withhold law enforcement funding to the so-called sanctuary cities.

On Wednesday, the 16 AGs submitted an amicus brief to fight the Trump administration’s efforts to punish sanctuary cities. Currently, Chicago is challenging the DOJ’s new immigration-related conditions on grants under the Byrne-JAG program.

In their amicus brief, the AGs emphasized that “Congress prohibited federal agencies and executive-branch officials from using law enforcement grants such as Byrne-JAG to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over any police force or law enforcement agency of any state…”

The AGs also pointed out that the DOJ lacks authority to implement new conditions to the Byrne-JAG. They argued that “the Byrne-JAG statute creates a mandatory formula grant. There is “no room” for the department “to deviate from the legislative formula.”

Additionally, the AGs noted that the Congress repeatedly rejected legislation that would withhold grant funding as a penalty for not cooperating with federal immigration law.