Den­ver’s mayor de­clares win against U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By An­drew Ken­ney

Den­ver won, and the feds paid up.

That was the city’s mes­sage Fri­day as it cel­e­brated the ar­rival of $695,000 from the fed­eral govern­ment. It’s nor­mally a rou­tine af­fair, but the money was tied up for a year in a na­tional fight be­tween cities and U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions.

“From the be­gin­ning, we have said that if the De­part­ment of Jus­tice at­tempted to with­hold fed­eral fund­ing from Den­ver based on our im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, we would fight them. We did, and the fed­eral courts have agreed with us,” Mayor Michael Han­cock said in a writ­ten state­ment is­sued Fri­day.

Den­ver Dis­trict At­tor­ney Beth McCann also weighed in on the city’s fi­nan­cial vic­tory.

“The courts have re­peat­edly de­clared un­law­ful the fed­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion’s strong­arm tac­tics jeop­ar­diz­ing lo­cal pub­lic safety fund­ing,” McCann said in the news re­lease. “The re­lease of these funds as au­tho­rized by Congress is over­due but wel­come.”

Den­ver orig­i­nally ap­plied in Au­gust 2017 for reg­u­lar “jus­tice as­sis­tance” grant fund­ing from the jus­tice de­part­ment. City of­fi­cials ex­pected to re­ceive the money that fall and planned to use it for po­lice tech­nol­ogy and pro­grams.

In Au­gust, a fed­eral ap­peals court is­sued an or­der al­low­ing cities to col­lect the fund­ing with­out com­ply­ing with the im­mi­gra­ tion­re­lated con­di­tions tied to the money. That rul­ing in­cluded Evanston, Ill., Den­ver and other mem­bers of the U.S. Con­fer­ence of May­ors, ac­cord­ing to the may­ors’ con­fer­ence.

The con­tro­versy ac­tu­ally dates to 2016, in the last months of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, when the Jus­tice De­part­ment said cities could not for­bid ex­change of im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus in­for­ma­tion if they wanted the fund­ing, as The Mar­shall Project re­ported.

Ses­sions ex­panded that pol­icy in 2017, say­ing that cities and states re­ceiv­ing fund­ing had to al­low fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents into jails, and that they must no­tify the feds be­fore re­leas­ing unau­tho­rized im­mi­grants who are wanted by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties.

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