The Justice Department repealed a Trump-era policy that blocked federal grants to “sanctuary cities” that block criminal detainees from deportation, Reuters reports.
The policy was implemented under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 just days after Trump took office, cutting off hundreds of millions to cities that did not fully cooperate with ICE officers.
Sessions’ directive made federal grants for criminal justice efforts contingent on cities allowing federal agents access to detainees to inquire about their immigration status and required cities to notify the federal government 48 hours before releasing any inmates it may be “interested in,” CNN reported.
“We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” Trump wrote in a memo at the time.
The grants applied to $250 million in funding to local police departments from the DOJ.
Seven cities sued over the ban. An appeals court sided with the Trump administration. The states appealed to the Supreme Court but ultimately dropped the case after Biden won the election.
DOJ lifts ban:
The Justice Department quietly lifted the ban in an internal memo obtained by Reuters.
Acting head of the Office of Justice Programs Maureen Henneberg said in the memo that the grants will no longer be contingent on cooperation with ICE and ordered staff to remove any such requirements from grant applications.
"Pull down and revise all solicitations that describe requirements or priority consideration elements or criteria pertaining to immigration,” she wrote. "These solicitations will be reposted and grantees will be required to reapply.”
Ban cost NY $30 million:
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office said that the ban cost the state more than $30 million in grant money.
The state sued the Trump administration but ultimately dropped its lawsuit after Biden took office.
The Justice Department and the states that sued asked a court in March to put the issue on hold until the DOJ reviewed the policy.
“The Justice Department's decision to cease using immigration-related criteria will apply to all of the department's grants,” Reuters reported, “as well as notices posted by several other Justice Department offices that award grants.”