Attorney General Racine Leads States’ Effort to Protect Funding for ‘Sanctuary Cities’

Amicus Brief Says Trump’s Threat to Withhold Public Safety Grants Hurts Communities

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Last night, Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the District and 10 other states in a California challenge to the Trump Administration’s efforts to cut off federal public safety grants to so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions. The brief was filed in California v. Sessions (3:17-cv-04701-WHO), in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program funds important public safety initiatives in states and cities around the country, including violence-prevention efforts in the District. DOJ has threatened to withhold these grants from the District and 37 other jurisdictions in an attempt to pressure them to enforce federal immigration law. The District’s brief, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, argues that these threats unlawfully interfere with local jurisdictions’ prerogative “to enact and implement policies that promote public safety, prevent crime, and facilitate positive and productive interactions between local law enforcement and all of their residents, regardless of immigration status.”

“Local law enforcement agencies in the District and in jurisdictions across the country are focused on keeping residents safe by building and maintaining relationships of trust,” said Attorney General Racine. “Our communities are safer when residents can trust law enforcement, regardless of their immigration status. We have filed this brief to ensure that law-enforcement officials are able to protect local residents – including those in our immigrant communities.”

The amicus brief, available here, argues that state and local law enforcement agencies are in the best position to assess how to conduct police work in their communities. Conscripting local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law is unlawful and endangers the trust that members of immigrant communities must have in local police, which harms public health and safety.

Attorney General Racine, in collaboration with the Attorneys General of California, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington state, released a report earlier this year that refutes the Trump Administration's claims on so-called “sanctuary” policies. “Setting the Record Straight on Local Involvement in Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement: The Facts and The Laws” outlines how many local law enforcement agencies have decided that public safety is best served by focusing their time and resources on fighting crime rather than serving as federal immigration enforcers.

Attorney General Racine led the brief’s drafting. The attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington state signed on to the brief.