A protracted legal battle between former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the city of Chicago over local police enforcement of Trump administration immigration policies prompted Sessions to put the Justice Assistance Grants program—federal grants for police departments across the country—on hold.Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.” For announcements of grant freezes in light of litigation, see Bureau of Justice Assistance, “FY 2017 and FY 2018 JAG Award Special Notices.”
He froze the entire $275 million program when a plan to withhold only some grants was stymied by a judge’s ruling in Chicago v. Sessions, a lawsuit in which the city argued that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot withhold federal grants based on a city’s refusal to participate in federal immigration enforcement activities.City of Chicago v. Sessions, No. 1:17-cv-05720 (N.D. Ill., filed August 7, 2017).
Although a judge ruled in favor of Chicago in September 2017, Sessions decided to halt the entire program for the duration of the DOJ’s appeal, also affecting a number of jurisdictions that support cooperation with the department.Betsy Pearl, “All Talk, No Action: Debunking the Trump Administration’s Support for Law Enforcement,” Center for American Progress, March 30, 2018.
Some grants for fiscal year 2017 have now been released by court order, yet legal fights continue over fiscal year 2018 funds.Debra Cassens Weiss, “Another Court Rules Against Trump Administration's Grant Restrictions to Sanctuary Jurisdictions,” ABA Journal, December 3, 2018; and Dave Nyczepir, “DOJ Slowly Releasing 2017 Public Safety Funds to Sanctuary Cities,” Route Fifty, October 15, 2018.
The Trump administration has also declined to renew an Obama-era grant program to organizations working to fight domestic terrorism.Laura Strickler, “Trump Admin Will Apparently Not Renew Program To Fight Domestic Terror,” NBC News, October 31, 2018. The Countering Violent Extremism Grant Program, which President Obama launched in 2016, supported the development and implementation of training materials for law enforcement, mental health counselors, and schools to help identify warning signs of radicalization and prevent terrorist attacks.U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “DHS Countering Violent Extremism Grants.” While most of the original recipients received their grants in 2017, the Department of Homeland Security rescinded awards to several organizations—including one devoted to combating white supremacist terrorism.Strickler, “Trump Admin Will Apparently Not Renew Program,” 2018.