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Hawai‘i: ‘Sanctuary Funding Cuts Illegal’

Attorney General Doug Chin has joined a friend-of-the-court brief, filed by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine and signed by attorneys general from nine other states, in a California challenge to the Trump Administration’s efforts to cut off federal public safety grants to so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

The brief was filed Nov. 29, 2017, in California v. Sessions in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program funds important public safety initiatives in states and cities around the country. DOJ has threatened to withhold these grants from 38 jurisdictions in an attempt to pressure them to enforce federal immigration law. The multistate brief argues that these threats unlawfully interfere with local jurisdictions’ prerogative “to enact and implement policies that promote public safety, prevent crime, and facilitate positive and productive interactions between local law enforcement and all of their residents, regardless of immigration status.”

Attorney General Chin said, “Federal grants to our state and local law enforcement partners have always been—until now—free of politics. We will not sit by while this administration jeopardizes public safety by trying to score political points through its attacks on immigrants.”

In the state’s most recent annual Uniform Crime Report released on Aug. 31, 2017, the overall 2016 crime rate in Hawai‘i was 3,206 offenses per 100,000 population, the lowest on record since statewide record collection began in 1975.

The amicus brief argues that state and local law enforcement agencies are in the best position to assess how to conduct police work in their communities. No matter what a state or local jurisdiction decides—whether to communicate or cooperate with federal immigration officials or not—it should be the state or local jurisdiction that determines those policies. They are the ones that know their communities’ needs and how best to address them.

Attorney General Racine led the brief’s drafting. In addition to Attorney General Chin, the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington state signed on to the brief.

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