NJ Attorney General Announces Support Against Trump’s Campaign Against Illegal Aliens, Sanctuary Cities

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Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has joined a multi-state amicus brief filed in federal court that supports the city and county of San Francisco, as well as the County of Santa Clara, in their legal fight against the Trump Administration’s threatened reduction in federal funding to jurisdictions with fair and welcoming policies.

Presently, the federal government is prohibited – by virtue of a permanent injunction issued by a U.S. District Court Judge in California – from enforcing Executive Order provisions that threaten to broadly strip federal funds from states and localities the Trump Administration designates as “sanctuary jurisdictions” for immigrants.

The Trump Administration is now appealing that permanent injunction before the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The multi-state brief joined by Attorney General Grewal asks the Ninth Circuit to affirm the district court’s decision. It urges the Ninth Circuit to uphold the permanent injunction and, in doing so, reject what it describes as an attempt by the Administration to “coerce” state and local jurisdictions into lockstep with the federal government on immigration enforcement policy.

In Fiscal Year 2017, New Jersey received billions of dollars in federal funding that could potentially be threatened by the Executive Order, including millions of dollars in federal Byrne Grant funds – some used by the State, but most “passed through” to local jurisdictions – to fund public safety initiatives.

“Threatening to withhold federal funding that helps protect communities across this state is a dangerous political game that undermines public safety for all New Jerseyans. So is the practice of trying to incite fear by arguing, as the Administration has done, that fair and welcoming jurisdictions invite crime,” said Attorney General Grewal.

“As a former County Prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand that you can keep people safe while also treating your immigrant communities with dignity and respect, and I’m committed to doing just that,” Grewal said.

The Attorney General said he is disappointed to see the federal government trying to use federal grant funding – much of it expended each year to pay for initiatives that protect both communities and police officers – as leverage in the immigration enforcement debate.

Noting that the participating states – New Jersey included – collectively receive billions of dollars in federal grants each year that could be affected, the multi-state amicus brief supports San Francisco and Santa Clara’s claims that the Trump Executive Order is unconstitutional. It argues that continuing the permanent injunction barring Trump’s Executive Order is essential to avoiding harm to the states and local jurisdictions.

In addition to highlighting flaws in the federal government’s arguments, the multi-state amicus brief highlights the public safety benefits arising from policies focused on crime prevention as opposed to enforcement of federal immigration law.

In addition to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Attorney General   Grewal, the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia are party to the amicus brief.

Trump’s Executive Order directed the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland security to “ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply” with federal immigration enforcement policy “are not eligible to receive federal grants.”

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick issued a permanent injunction against the Executive Order in November 2017. In issuing the injunction, the judge held that the Executive Order was unconstitutional, and that “federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.”