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May 4, 2021 - Herring Secures the Restoration of Public Safety Grants

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Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street Richmond, Virginia 23219


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~ Trump Administration policy withheld critical Byrne JAG law enforcement grants based on unlawful immigration-related conditions; Virginia to receive more than $10 million in retroactive public safety funding ~

RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is announcing the restoration of federal funds for public safety that Virginia receives under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program (Byrne JAG) and the conclusion of legal challenges against the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice for denying these funds. Attorney General Herring and a coalition of attorneys general filed a lawsuit in 2018 challenging the Trump Administration’s policy denying these public safety funds based on unlawful immigration-related conditions. Virginia to receive more than $10 million in retroactive public safety funding.


“The Trump Administration’s decision to sacrifice the public safety of our communities for aggressive federal immigration enforcement showed just what their priorities truly were,” said Attorney General Herring. “I’m glad that we are able to put this litigation behind us and free up years of unlawfully withheld federal funding that can now go towards crucial programs that will keep Virginians, their families, and their communities safe.”


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 jurisdictions that did not comply with these conditions. In June 2018, the DOJ sent notice to Virginia that it had to participate in enforcing the federal government’s civil immigration policies in order to receive Byrne JAG funding. The conditions 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, Attorney General Herring and a coalition of attorneys general filed a suit against the Trump administration’s DOJ, challenging the administration’s efforts to deny these grants. In November 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of Attorney General Herring and his colleagues, concluding that the DOJ lacked the authority to condition these vital public safety funds on compliance with the new immigration-related conditions. The district court also permanently enjoined the DOJ from imposing the new conditions on the Byrne JAG awards, and directed the federal agency to restore the nearly $25 million in Fiscal Year 2017 Byrne JAG grants that Virginia 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, the DOJ agreed to remove the challenged conditions, allowing Virginia and the other plaintiffs in the suit to access their withheld grant funds.


Joining Attorney General Herring are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.


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