Trump Administration Withheld Critical Byrne JAG Law Enforcement Grants to New Jersey, Other States and Localities
For Immediate Release: May 4, 2021
Office of The Attorney General
– Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General
For Further Information:
TRENTON — Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today the restoration of federal funds for public safety that New Jersey receives under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program (Byrne JAG), and also announced the conclusion of multi-state legal challenges against the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice for denying the funds.
“This is a victory for public safety in New Jersey. The Trump Administration’s attempts to tie vital law enforcement funding to harsh, anti-immigrant policies have failed, and we have prevailed against efforts to weaponize grant dollars that help protect our state,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I know that building and maintaining trust between the state’s immigrant populations and law enforcement only strengthens our efforts to solve crimes and prosecute criminals, and I’m glad that the Department of Justice has removed these unnecessary and counterproductive grant conditions.”
In July 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it was imposing new, immigration-related conditions on recipients of Byrne JAG funding, and threatened to withhold funds from states and other jurisdictions that did not comply with these conditions.
In June 2018, DOJ sent notice to New Jersey that it must participate in enforcing the federal government’s civil immigration policies in order to receive Byrne JAG funding.
The conditions of that participation would require state and local governments to provide the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with: advance notice of an immigrant’s scheduled release date from a correctional facility; grant federal agents access to correctional facilities to question immigrants and 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.
In July 2018, a coalition of Attorneys General including Attorney General Grewal filed a suit against the Trump Administration DOJ, challenging its efforts to deny the Byrne JAG grants.
In November 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the Attorneys General, concluding that DOJ lacked the authority to condition vital public safety funds on compliance with the new, immigration-related conditions.
The court also permanently enjoined DOJ from imposing the new conditions on the Byrne JAG awards, and directed the agency to restore the nearly $25 million in Fiscal Year 2017 Byrne JAG grants that New Jersey and other plaintiff states were entitled to by federal statute, without the unlawful immigration-related conditions.
After appellate proceedings going up to the U.S. Supreme Court, DOJ agreed to remove the challenged conditions, allowing New Jersey and the other plaintiffs in the suit to access their withheld grant funds.
In addition to Attorney General Grewal, other plaintiffs represented in the suit that ultimately resulted in restoration of the Byrne JAG funds include the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.