Lawsuit Alleges Federal Government Withheld $6.5 Million in Funding to Illinois
Chicago —(ENEWSPF)—July 13, 2018
By: Rosemary Piser
Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for violating federal law by refusing to release $6.5 million in funding for Illinois law enforcement and criminal justice initiatives from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program. These funds are used by Illinois law enforcement for innovative programs to protect communities, prevent crime and support victims and witnesses. However, the DOJ is withholding funds for these critical programs as punishment for Illinois’ policies that encourage cooperation between law enforcement and immigrant communities.
In her complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Madigan alleges the DOJ and Sessions exceeded their authority under the U.S. Constitution and laws by using the Byrne JAG program funding to require Illinois law enforcement to actively participate in federal immigration work, even though the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently declared DOJ’s position unlawful. By doing so, Madigan alleges that the DOJ and Sessions are interfering with the state’s and municipalities’ abilities to set their own law enforcement policies to protect their communities.
Attorney General Madigan said, “Withholding millions of dollars that Illinois law enforcement depends on to prevent crime senselessly jeopardizes the safety and welfare of Illinois residents.”
The complaint asks the court to declare that DOJ is unlawfully depriving the state of funding for critical law enforcement programs by mandating that Illinois comply with federal immigration initiatives as a condition for receiving the funds and to compel DOJ to immediately disburse the state’s funding without further delay.
Madigan’s complaint states in part:
“Byrne JAG funds allow Illinois law enforcement officers to respond to pressing community needs using data-driven, results-oriented techniques. They promote partnerships between federal, State, and local agencies to address shared enforcement responsibilities. They help to ensure that the State’s criminal justice systems operate efficiently and effectively. Illinois residents are safer because of Byrne JAG funds.”
Prior to filing this lawsuit, Madigan, along with 15 Attorneys General, filed an amicus brief in February in support of the City of Chicago in its lawsuit challenging the DOJ’s efforts to punish so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions by putting immigration-related conditions on federal law enforcement grants. Madigan and the other attorneys general argued that the conditions far exceed DOJ’s authority and interfere with the right of states and localities to set their own law enforcement policies.