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State

Raoul sues U.S. attorney general for withholding funds over immigration policy

Case is second challenge to Trump administration’s policy on undocumented immigrants

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul fileda federal lawsuitThursday against U.S. Attorney General William Barr over a Trump administration policy requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to cooperate in federal immigration enforcement.

It is the second such lawsuit Raoul’s office has filed challenging the Trump administration’s requirement that in order to receive federal law enforcement grants, state and local governments must show that they cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security in enforcing federal immigration laws.

“As Attorney General Barr is likely aware, it is unconstitutional to place immigration-related conditions on funding for Illinois law enforcement,” Raoul said in a news release. “This lawsuit will help ensure that this important funding is not used as a bargaining chip as the administration continues to push its illegal and discriminatory immigration policies.”

At issue is the state’s access to roughly $6.5 million in annual funding for Illinois from the federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program.

Those grants are awarded to states which, in turn, use them to fund a variety of state and local law enforcement initiatives such as prosecution, crime prevention and education, drug treatment programs and crime victim and witness services.

Soon after coming into office in 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration adopted new policies in order for states to qualify for those grants. Those included requirements that states document compliance with a federal law requiring states to allow local law enforcement agencies to communicate with federal immigration officials; that they give federal authorities advance notice of the release from custody of any person suspected of being in the country illegally; and that they give federal authorities access to people in custody who are suspected of being in the country illegally.

Both the city of Chicago and Raoul’s office filed separate federal lawsuits against then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the Justice Department rejected the state’s application for grant funding in 2017.

Both the city and state argued that the Justice Department had no legal or constitutional authority to attach conditions on the awarding of those grants beyond what Congress had authorized. They also argued that doing so violated the 10thAmendment to the U.S. Constitution that says any power not given to the federal government is reserved for the people or the states.

In September 2017, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction in the Chicago’s case, and that injunction was later upheld by the 7thCircuit Court of Appeals.

Raoul’s case on behalf of the state was filed in July 2018. Two months later, in September, the Justice Department stipulated to a permanent injunction barring the use of the three immigration-related conditions in the grant program.

Now, Raoul said, Attorney General Barr is attempting to re-impose those same conditions while adding two new ones: that they cannot release any federal law enforcement information in an attempt to conceal or harbor any undocumented alien; and that states collect and maintain information about how each entity to which they distribute federal funds also comply with the immigration-related conditions.

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