LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office is taking two significant actions against the Trump Administration. First, Feuer’s office today amended an existing lawsuit against the Administration to become the first jurisdiction in the country to challenge immigration-related conditions placed on a new Juvenile Gang Prevention Grant. In addition, Feuer’s office will file a motion seeking a permanent program-wide injunction prohibiting President Trump’s Justice Department from again imposing unconstitutional and unrelated conditions on the City in order to receive FY 2018 Federal Byrne JAG funding for vital anti-gang programs. In both instances, the immigration-related conditions are similar to those previously enjoined by multiple courts, including the City’s own lawsuit for FY 2017 Federal Byrne JAG funds.
"Los Angeles continues to be in the forefront in standing up to the Trump Administration's repeated efforts to hold federal public safety funding hostage by illegally imposing civil immigration enforcement conditions on local law enforcement," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. "We will aggressively challenge Administration policies that would undermine public safety in Los Angeles."
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. An allocation list for 2018 indicated that Los Angeles is eligible to receive $2.2 million for this application cycle, with $1.8 million allocated directly to the City and the remainder to the County. 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.
LAPD has also applied for funding from the DOJ’s Juvenile Gang Prevention Grant Funds in order to support and create a framework and strategic plan to combat local juvenile gang crime and violence that specifically involves the MS-13 gang. Funding from the grant would support LAPD efforts to reduce gun and gang violence among youth and increase safety among communities affected by MS-13. The grant is a competitive grant and is being awarded for the first time.
The City submitted an application for 2018 Byrne JAG funding in advance of the deadline of August 22, 2018. The deprivation of 2018 Byrne grant funding 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 enjoined those conditions.
Applications for current Byrne JAG funding for the fiscal year 2018 and the Juvenile Gang Prevention Grant 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 terms on a discretionary community policing (COPS) grant was unlawful. That decision imposed a nationwide injunction against the imposition of immigration-related terms for COPS grants.
In seeking a motion for summary judgement and a permanent program-wide injunction, the City of Los Angeles will argue that precedent from the City of Los Angeles vs. Sessions decision supports the City’s claim that immigration-related conditions imposed on JAG Grants and the Juvenile Gang Prevention Grant are unlawful as well.