Democrats to Trump: Why are you holding N.J. law enforcement grants hostage?

Star Ledger/NJ.com

WASHINGTON—Three New Jersey House Democrats blasted President Donald Trump’s administration for continuing to withhold almost $6 million in law enforcement grants.

The money was to be awarded to New Jersey and its municipalities through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants program, but the lawmakers, joined by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, said the funds were being held hostage to the state’s opposition to Trump’s immigration policy.

Several municipalities have declared themselves “sanctuary cities” and said they would not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, and the Trump administration has threatened to withhold some grants in return.

“No one should ever play politics with our law enforcement, but this is exactly what Donald Trump and [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions are doing,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist. “Local law enforcement strategies should not be undermined by Trump forcing states and localities to enforce his cruel, draconian immigration policies.”

Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley has blamed that the delay to a lawsuit brought by the city of Chicago and in June announced it would start distributing Byrne funds “to jurisdictions that share the department’s commitment to keeping criminal aliens off our streets and our law abiding citizens safe.”

Pascrell was joined by Reps. Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist., and Donald Payne Jr., D-10th Dist., at Newark City Hall. They said the state was to get $4 million and 41 municipalities $2 million in Byrne grants, which provids funds for training, personnel and equipment to fight crime and terrorism.

“By forcing a false choice between abandoning our immigrant community or receiving federal law enforcement grants, the Trump administration has hurt every single New Jerseyan,” Payne said.

New Jersey and five other states earlier this month sued to force the Justice Department to release the funds.

Last November, the state’s Democratic lawmakers said the money was being withheld after several municipalities said they would not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.The lawmakers told Sessions that said they believed the delay was part of the Justice Department’s efforts “to punish states and local governments for their immigration laws and policies.”

Posted July 23 2018 at 3:31 PM Permanent Link

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