Department of Justice Conditions Participation in Public Safety Partnership Program on Immigration Enforcement Cooperation

Alexander J. Segal's picture

On June 20, 2017, the United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of the “National Public Safety Partnership” [PDF version]. The National Public Safety Partnership was created in response to President Donald Trump's February 9, 2017 Executive Order 13776 titled “Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety” [PDF version]. Localities may apply to participate in the National Public Safety Partnership. The Department of Justice (DOJ) will assist participating localities in reducing violent crime rates.

National Public Safety Partnership

On August 3, 2017, the DOJ announced that, in order to be selected for participation in the National Public Safety Partnership program, “local jurisdictions must show a commitment to reducing crime stemming from illegal immigration” [PDF version]. To assess whether jurisdictions applying to participate in the program are sufficiently cooperative with Federal immigration enforcement, the DOJ will ask applicants the following questions (quoted from DOJ news release):

  1. Does your jurisdiction have a statute, rule, regulation, policy, or practice that is designed to ensure that U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel have access to any correctional or detention facility in order to meet with an alien (or an individual believed to be an alien) and inquire as to his or her right to be or to remain in the United States?
  2. Does your jurisdiction have a statute, rule, regulation, policy, or practice that is designed to ensure that your correctional and detention facilities provide at least 48 hours advance notice, where possible, to DHS regarding the scheduled release date and time of an alien in the jurisdiction's custody when DHS requests such notice in order to take custody of the alien?
  3. Does your jurisdiction have a statute, rule, regulation, policy, or practice that is designed to ensure that your correctional and detention facilities will honor a written request from DHS to hold a foreign national for up to 48 hours beyond the scheduled release date, in order to permit DHS to take custody of the foreign national?

The Department of Justice formally requested information from the following four jurisdictions that had expressed interest in participating in the Public Safety Partnership program:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico;
  • Baltimore, Maryland;
  • San Bernardino, California; and
  • Stockton, California.

You may read the letters here [PDF version].

On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13768, directing the Department of Justice to withhold Federal grants from sanctuary jurisdictions. After an adverse court ruling regarding the provision by the United States District Court for the District of California, Attorney General Sessions issued a DOJ memorandum interpreting the sanctuary jurisdiction provision to apply only to new grants, and not to preexisting grants the terms of which did not stipulate cooperation with Federal immigration enforcement [see blog].

Since the Public Safety Partnership program was announced only on June 20, 2017, and subsequent to President Trump's Executive Order on sanctuary jurisdictions, it is unsurprising that the DOJ has moved to condition participation on meeting certain benchmarks regarding cooperation with Federal immigration enforcement. It remains to be seen how the jurisdictions from which more evidence was requested by the DOJ will respond.

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