Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today urged U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to immediately suspend immigration-related conditions on funding essential to Colorado’s law enforcement services in rural and urban communities.
In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released overdue federal funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program for Fiscal Year 2017. Attached to Colorado’s $2.7 million share were unrelated and unprecedented immigration-related conditions. DOJ attached these conditions without engaging in the proper rulemaking process and failed to equip states with sufficient guidance on how to enforce compliance with these conditions.
Colorado’s 32 JAG recipients include law enforcement agencies, restorative justice programs, human service agencies, housing authorities, and tribes. The funds are used to support positions like police department clerks, youth behavioral counselors, and drug treatment court attorneys. The recipients were unaware of the conditions at the time they applied for funding. They were also not included in the rulemaking process to comment on the certification terms. The conditions are currently being litigated in Pennsylvania.
“Colorado communities and organizations are forced to either accept the uncertainty and cost associated with these controversial immigration-related conditions or provide the same services without those critical funding resources,” Bennet wrote in a letter to Sessions.
Furthermore, by placing the responsibility on states to determine if recipients meet the conditions, states are unable to distribute the funds with certainty that they are compliant with DOJ’s conditions.
“The state agency tasked with distributing the funds is not equipped with sufficient expertise to interpret the Justice Department’s vague and arbitrary conditions,” Bennet wrote.
“These unprecedented conditions are the latest in a pattern by this Administration of attaching strings to critical federal funding. In effect, the conditions are directly harming states like Colorado that use JAG funds to keep their communities safe. I urge you to suspend the conditions immediately until the litigation is resolved and allow state agencies to accept and distribute JAG funds under the grant conditions required in the past,” Bennet concluded.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.