Denver joins lawsuit against Jeff Sessions over sanctuary cities funding

Mayor Michael Hancock says it's about public safety.

KUSA - Denver will join a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the Trump administration’s decision to withhold some federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities.

The city of Chicago filed the initial lawsuit on Aug. 7 to stop Sessions from “imposing sweeping new conditions on an established federal grant program.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) provides local and state law enforcement agencies with funds for programs like crime prevention, drug treatment, new technology for public safety and victim services.

A spokesperson for Mayor Michael Hancock’s office told 9NEWS the official announcement about Denver joining the lawsuit will take place Thursday afternoon when Hancock signs a new ordinance into law that protects undocumented immigrants.

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The “Denver Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act” was passed by the city council Monday night. The bill puts into writing the long-standing policy that Denver does not engage in immigration enforcement and does not inquire about someone’s citizenship.

While city leaders are not using the term “sanctuary city,” in a press release from the Department of Justice on July 25, Attorney General Sessions said grant applicants must comply with rules to ensure information sharing between federal, state, and local law enforcement.

RELATED: Denver passes immigration ordinance restricting city cooperation with ICE

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“We must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals,” Sessions said in the release. “From now on, the Department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law.”

According to Denver’s Department of Finance, last year the city received $904,232 in JAG federal funds. In total, the city spent $158,142,406 in overall federal funding in 2016 across multiple city departments.

Since the Department of Justice announced new immigration compliance requirements for the Justice Assistance Grants, Denver is at risk of losing $904,232. According to the lawsuit filed by Chicago, the grant application for fiscal year 2017 is due on Sept. 5 and will require the new compliance requirements.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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