Connecticut will retroactively receive $6.4 million in law enforcement grants blocked under the Trump administration as a result of the state’s defiance of certain federal immigration enforcement policies, Attorney General William Tong announced Tuesday.
In a press release, Tong said Connecticut would collect four years of Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, or Byrne JAG grants, which were withheld under former President Donald Trump’s administration from 2017 through 2020.
The blocked funding stems from Connecticut’s status as a “sanctuary” state, which has chosen not to comply with some federal information-sharing policies. The state has a law, called the Trust Act, which requires judicial warrants in order to comply with federal immigration detainers.
President Joe Biden’s administration rescinded the hold on the money, which Tong said would save Connecticut and other states years of litigation.
“The federal government was wrong in attempting to force Connecticut police to devote their time and attention to federal immigration enforcement,” Tong said, according to the press release. “Police have had their hands more than full addressing serious public safety threats like gun violence, domestic violence, and the opioid epidemic, and this federal support is long-overdue.”
During the four years, the Justice Department tied the funding to compliance with certain immigration rules. The requirements included providing the Homeland Security Department advance notice of an immigrant’s discharge from a state prison, access to jails and prisons in order to question incarcerated immigrants, and certifying compliance with an interpretation of a federal information-sharing policy, which Tong’s office referred to as “new and expansive.”
Connecticut was one of six states to sue the Justice Department, claiming it was against the law to withhold the funding. Last year, a federal appeals court concluded the Trump administration could block the grants. The states later abandoned a planned appeal to the Supreme Court after Trump lost his re-election bid.
In a prepared statement, Gov. Ned Lamont called the announcement a “hard-fought victory” for Tong. He said the Justice Department policy had been punishing for Connecticut and the other states involved in the litigation.
“I am charging my administration with developing bold, innovative plans to use these restored funds to help write the next chapter of data-driven criminal justice policy and practice in Connecticut,” Lamont said, according to the press release. “Specifically, I am establishing priorities that include achieving safer, healthier outcomes for our at-risk youth and reducing gun violence in communities to save lives and address trauma.”