The Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant has provided the Newport Police Department with around $36,000/year over the past 12 years ($432,347 worth of grant funding since 2005). This money has gone towards funding communications equipment, community policing initiatives, traffic safety programs, targeted enforcement efforts, and a variety of other directives.
Earlier this year, Jeff Sessions announced that the Byrne grant would come with additional stipulations, requiring police departments that accept funding to conform to certain standards relating to immigration law enforcement. These standards include the following:
- Must certify compliance with section 1373, a federal statute applicable to state and local governments that generally bars restrictions on communications between state and local agencies and officials at the Department of Homeland Security;
- Must permit personnel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to access any detention facility in order to meet with an alien and inquire as to his or her right to be or remain in the United States;
- Must provide at least 48 hours advance notice to DHS regarding the scheduled release date and time of an alien in the jurisdiction’s custody when DHS requests such notice in order to take custody of the alien.
These stipulations are aimed at punishing sanctuary cities and have caused the City of Chicago to file suit against the justice department, stating that this amounts to a blackmail attempt by the federal government.
The city council will be holding a public forum tonight (Wednesday, Sept. 12) to discuss the acceptance of the 2017 grant and associated stipulations.
I for one think that we should engage the council on this matter and urge them to plant a flag of protest by declining to accept this grant.
I understand that a well-funded police department is essential to maintaining our city, but betraying our city’s morality to the Trump administration for $36,000 is not worth it.
I urge anyone who agrees with me to attend tonight’s public forum and let the council know how you feel.
-Steven Sabo, Newport
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