California Attorney General Xavier Becerra moved for summary judgement on July 9th, and requested a nationwide injunction in the Northern District Court of California against the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional attempt to commandeer California law enforcement agencies into enforcing federal immigration law by withholding funding from local law enforcement. In California v. Sessions, Attorney General Becerra argues that a nationwide injunction is needed to ensure law enforcement in California and beyond can continue the work of protecting their communities. In addition, Attorney General Becerra filed six declarations from jurisdictions outside of California in support of the request for a nationwide injunction.
“The Trump administration has it backwards – withholding millions of dollars in critical public safety grants from local police and sheriffs doesn’t make our communities safer. It leaves them more vulnerable,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Law enforcement agencies in California and nationwide deserve access to critical resources needed to promote public safety, and we will continue to fight on their behalf.”
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program entitles states to a certain amount of law enforcement funding in accordance with a formula outlined by Congress. In 2017, the City of Chicago secured a nationwide injunction against implementation of two of three new requirements for JAG funding issued by the Trump Administration. But that injunction was recently narrowed to apply only to the city of Chicago in Sessions v. City of Chicago. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice has begun issuing JAG awards to some jurisdictions while withholding them from others, including all jurisdictions in California. As a result, California has not been awarded $28 million in JAG funding, and at least $56 million has been withheld from law enforcement nationwide. The U.S. Department of Justice has also unlawfully withheld California’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant funds, which the State uses to support a task force that combats large-scale drug trafficking. California’s motion seeks to have the court enjoin the federal government’s unlawful conditions for all jurisdictions and compel the issuance of JAG funding to all eligible jurisdictions in the United States that have yet to receive it, as well as to restore COPS funding to California.
“The Trump administration has it backwards – withholding millions of dollars in critical public safety grants from local police and sheriffs doesn’t make our communities safer. It leaves them more vulnerable.”
Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General
Attorney General Becerra filed this lawsuit against the Trump Administration on August 14, 2017, after the federal government attempted to impose unconstitutional conditions on law enforcement funding. These conditions force state and local law enforcement to choose between receiving critical law enforcement funding or maintaining the autonomy to continue the community policing strategies they deem most effective for keeping our communities safe. In this week’s filing, Attorney General Becerra also submitted declarations from California local government officials discussing the harm that entangling local governments with immigration enforcement causes to community trust and the health, safety, and welfare of their communities.
Attorney General Becerra has been steadfast in his fight against the federal government’s intimidation over state and local governments’ attempts to limit their entanglement with federal immigration enforcement. In June 2017, he led nine states and the District of Columbia in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, in support of the City and County of San Francisco, the County of Santa Clara, and the City of Richmond in their challenge to the Trump Administration’s executive order targeting law enforcement policies. On July 5, 2018, Attorney General Becerra secured a legal victory in USA v. California, where a judge in the Eastern District Court of California denied the federal government’s motion for a preliminary injunction against two of California’s public safety laws. On July 9th, Attorney General Becerra secured the dismissal of most of the federal government’s lawsuit seeking to invalidate three of California’s laws: SB 54, California Values Act; AB 103, relating to the review of detention facilities; and AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act. The Court dismissed the United States’ claims in their entirety with respect to SB 54 and AB 103.