Attorney General Tong Secures the Restoration of Public Safety Grants
Connecticut to Collect $6.4 Million in Retroactive Law Enforcement Funding(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong announced today that the Biden-Harris administration has rescinded unlawful immigration conditions previously placed on federal law enforcement funding to states including Connecticut. The decision will be applied retroactively, enabling Connecticut to retroactively collect $6.4 million in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) program funding previously blocked in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
“Today’s action ends years of needless litigation and finally frees millions of dollars in wrongly-withheld funding to state and local law enforcement. The federal government was wrong in attempting to force Connecticut police to devote their time and attention to federal immigration enforcement. Police have had their hands more than full addressing serious public safety threats like gun violence, domestic violence, and the opioid epidemic, and this federal support is long-overdue,” said Attorney General Tong.
The Byrne JAG program provides grants to states and localities according to a mandatory statutory formula. Congress designed Byrne JAG to give states and localities a reliable source of law enforcement funding, while also giving them maximum flexibility to decide how to use the funds in accordance with state and local law-enforcement policy.
In July 2017, the DOJ announced that it was imposing new immigration-related conditions on recipients of Byrne JAG funding and threatened to withhold funds from jurisdictions that did not comply with these conditions. The conditions – which were issued with little guidance – included requirements that grant recipients provide the federal Department of Homeland Security with advance notice of an immigrant's scheduled release from a correctional facility; that recipients grant federal agents access to correctional facilities to question immigrants; and that recipients report on and certify state and local compliance with DOJ's new and expansive interpretation of 8 U.S.C. § 1373 – a federal information-sharing law.
Connecticut joined six other states led by New York in suing the U.S. Department of Justice in 2018 arguing that the Trump Administration’s immigration-related conditions on Byrne-JAG grants interfered with the rights of states and localities to set their own law enforcement policies. After appellate proceedings going up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the DOJ agreed to remove the challenged conditions, allowing Connecticut and the other plaintiffs in the suit to access their withheld grant funds.
In addition to Connecticut and New York, the other plaintiffs represented in the suit include the attorneys general of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Skold assisted the Attorney General in this matter.