LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration seeking an injunction prohibiting President Trump’s Justice Department from again imposing potentially unconstitutional and unrelated conditions on the City in order to receive Federal funding for vital anti-gang programs. Similar conditions were recently placed under court injunction for 2017 Federal funds.
"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," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. "Court after court has ruled this Trump Administration overreach is unconstitutional. We will fight to uphold the rule of law and protect our City."
Each year, The United States Department of Justice publishes applications for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), federal funding for states and cities to support local law enforcement efforts. Since 1997, with the exception of 2017 (which is currently the subject of a pending case), the City of Los Angeles has received over $1 million in JAG funding each year. Byrne JAG funding has previously been used to assist in funding the City’s Community Law Enforcement and Recovery (CLEAR) program which aims to reduce gang activity and violence in Los Angeles.
The City will submit an application for 2018 Byrne JAG funding by the deadline of August 22, 2018. The City has yet to receive its authorized 2017 Byrne Grant Funding and additional deprivation of funding from 2018 would result in a loss of valuable resources needed by the City to enhance local criminal justice efforts and advance public safety.
On July 25, 2017, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that pursuant to an Executive Order issued by President Trump, new immigration compliance requirements would be placed on all Byrne JAG grant applications and jurisdictions that did not change their policies to comply would be ineligible for funding. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as well as Federal district courts have placed an injunction on those conditions.
Applications for current Byrne JAG funding for the fiscal year 2018 are materially identical to conditions on the 2017 Byrne JAG grants that were previously enjoined by the courts. The 2018 grants specifically require the following conditions: 1) Compliance with federal statutes that bar restrictions on communications between state and local agencies and officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); 2) applicants must permit personnel of the DHS access to any correctional or detention facility in order to meet with a suspected alien so as to inquire on their right to remain in the United States; and 3) provide at least 48 hours advance notice to DHS regarding scheduled release date and time of an alien when requested.
The Department of Justice has also added new unlawful mandatory certifications and a questionnaire, from which they seek to deny funds to jurisdictions like Los Angeles that use such resources for local criminal justice programs rather than to participate in federal civil immigration enforcement.
In April of 2018, A U.S. district court found in the case City of Los Angeles vs. Sessions that the DOJ’s imposition of immigration-related conditions in a discretionary community policing (COPS) grant was unlawful. That decision imposed a nation-wide injunction against the imposition of immigration-related conditions for COPS grants.
In seeking this injunction, the City of Los Angeles argues that precedent from the City of Los Angeles vs. Sessions decision, which found the imposition of immigration-related condition on the COPS grant unlawful, supports the City’s claim that immigration-related conditions imposed on JAG grants are unlawful as well.