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Attorney General and Governor Kate Brown Sue U.S. Government After Feds Refuse Grant Money to Oregon

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Attorney General and Governor Kate Brown Sue U.S. Government After Feds Refuse Grant Money to Oregon

The U.S. government is citing Oregon sanctuary laws that limit state’s participation in federal immigration enforcement.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Governor Kate Brown filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. government, saying that the federal government should not be allowed to force the state of Oregon to cooperate with federal immigration priorities. City of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has announced his intent to ask the City Council to authorize the City to join that lawsuit.

The case focuses on the U.S. Department of Justice’s attempt to force Oregon to cooperate with federal immigration policies, using the threat of withholding federal law enforcement grants, called Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants. Congress sets the grants aside for community law enforcement programs around the country and did not tie the grants to immigration enforcement. However, DOJ refused to allocate the grants, citing Oregon sanctuary laws.

The lawsuit alleges that two federal statutes that prevent the state from imposing some limits on employee communications with federal immigration authorities usurp state power and violate the U.S. Constitution. It also alleges that US DOJ’s decision to impose conditions that Congress did not approve intrudes on congressional power. The goal of the lawsuit filed today is to ensure that the federal government cannot use Oregon resources to advance its poorly-considered immigration policies.

Mayor Ted Wheeler: “The City of Portland’s commitment to public safety is demonstrated by the resources we put behind those needs. The Byrne JAG grant has been a critical source of funding for programs that benefit the most marginalized members of our community. The City of Portland maintains that it is and has been in compliance with federal law, making the denial of federal funds to support our community unjust and unwarranted. We look forward to obtaining appropriate relief from the judicial system.”

Attorney General Rosenblum: “For years, these grants have provided millions of dollars to law enforcement in Oregon. But, suddenly these public safety funds have been withdrawn because Oregon will not submit to US DOJ’s demand that Oregon participate in its immigration enforcement efforts. As we have seen, these efforts have frequently been both inhumane and dangerous. Our police and other local law enforcement need to be able to protect all residents of our state—regardless of where they were born or their immigration status. We are all safer when all of our residents are not afraid to report crime to the to the police.” 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown: “Oregon voters sent a clear message to the Trump administration this week: Oregonians support our sanctuary laws. The Trump administration’s attempts to withhold public safety dollars from our state is unjust, dangerous, and unconstitutional. All Oregonians, regardless of their immigration status, deserve to have the full protection of our law enforcement. We will not stand for this administration’s attempts to strong-arm our state by withholding critical public safety dollars.”