Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
For Immediate Release: Friday, September 1, 2017
Metropolitan Area Planning Council Urges Court to Bar Enforcement of New Federal Grant Conditions in Chicago
Amicus Brief Attached
Boston — On August 31, 2017, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) joined an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief in support of the City of Chicago, which is seeking to bar enforcement of new federal grant conditions recently announced by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
The brief, authored by the County of Santa Clara, California in City of Chicago v. Sessions, was filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and urges the Court to grant the City’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Also signing onto the brief were municipal agencies across the nation, The United States Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, the International Municipal Lawyers Association and 37 cities, including Cambridge, Chelsea, Lawrence and Somerville.
Marc Draisen, Executive Director of MAPC, said, “We are proud to join with four Massachusetts cities and key national advocacy organizations in opposing unwarranted federal interference in local law enforcement. We believe that welcoming and open communities, where all residents regardless of their immigration status are treated with civility and respect, are also more likely to be safe communities. The new DOJ grant requirements fly in the face of this reality. The brief we have signed asserts that these poor public policies are also contrary to the US Constitution.”
The new DOJ conditions target the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, the leading source of federal grant funds for law enforcement, crime prevention, correctional, prosecution, indigent defense, and crime victim and witness programs. The new conditions would disqualify state and local governments from receiving these funds unless they agree to assist the federal government in enforcing federal immigration law. The amicus brief argues on behalf of local governments nationwide that these unconstitutional and unlawful conditions undermine the ability of local law enforcement agencies to use their own best judgments about how best to keep their communities safe.
The diverse group of local government entities and organizations that joined the amicus brief argue that local governments must maintain discretion to develop law enforcement policies tailored to the needs of their communities. Many cities and counties around the country have decided that limiting their involvement in federal immigration enforcement best promotes public safety by empowering all community members to report crimes and serve as witnesses, and avoids creating mistrust between immigrant residents and local law enforcement. In fact, the brief cites evidence that communities where local police do not engage in immigration enforcement—including major cities like Chicago—have lower crime rates than those that do.
DOJ’s new grant conditions would force local governments to either abandon the policies that they have adopted to increase community trust and lower crime rates, or lose their main source of federal funding for critical law enforcement programs that help achieve these goals.
The cities, counties, and organizations that signed the brief are:
The County of Santa Clara, California; the City of Austin, Texas; the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts; the City of Chelsea, Massachusetts; the City and County of Denver, Colorado; the District of Columbia; El Paso County, Texas; the City of Houston, Texas; the International City/County Management Association; the International Municipal Lawyers Association; the City of Iowa City, Iowa; the City of Ithaca, New York; King County, Washington; the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts; the City of Los Angeles, California; the City of Madison, Wisconsin; the City of Menlo Park, California; the Metropolitan Area Planning Council; the National Association of Counties; the National League of Cities; the City of New York, New York; the City of Oakland, California; the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the City of Portland, Oregon; the City of Providence, Rhode Island; the City of Rochester, New York; the City of Sacramento, California; the City of Salinas, California; the City and County of San Francisco, California; the City of San José, California; the City of Santa Ana, California; the County of Santa Cruz, California; the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico; the City of Seattle, Washington; the City of Somerville, Massachusetts; the County of Sonoma, California; the City of Syracuse, New York; Travis County, Texas; the City of Tucson, Arizona; the City of Union City, New Jersey; The United States Conference of Mayors; and the City of West Hollywood, California.