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High percentage of federal police funding supplied to sanctuary jurisdictions

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More than 40% of grants from the largest sources of federal police funding went in 2021 to sanctuary jurisdictions, including all six in North Carolina.

In total, the Department of Justice awarded about $300 million to sanctuary jurisdictions under three federal programs: the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, and the Community Oriented Policing Services program. The analysis was published recently by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Sanctuary jurisdictions means, by the center’s definition, these areas have laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions, policies or other practices that obstruct immigration enforcement and shield criminals from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE. They can be considered safe havens for those entering or living in a country without authorization in violation of civil or criminal law.

Buncombe, Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, Orange and Wake counties are the six counties of North Carolina’s 100 on the list.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions are receiving this funding despite having adopted policies to hinder cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities,” the report read. “As a result, the federal government is subsidizing agencies that may be violating federal law and undermining public safety.”

The analysis shows 58% of SCAAP funding, 68% of Byrne JAG funding and 28% of COPS funding went to sanctuaries, which translates into 43% of all funding among the three programs.

SCAAP funds are intended to reimburse state and local prisons and jails for part of the cost of incarcerating illegal aliens. The Byrne JAG is the leading source of federal funds for local and state prosecution and law enforcement efforts, while the COPS grant program supports community policing.

The Center for Immigration Studies derived totals from public award announcements on the Justice Department website.

The research shows North Carolina’s six sanctuary jurisdictions received a total of $847,468 in SCAAP and COPS funding. None received Byrne JAG funds, according to the analysis.

Durham County received the most with a COPS grant of $360,515, followed by Mecklenburg County, which received $97,689 from SCAAP and $105,328 from COPS. Wake County took in $50,881 from SCAAP and $120,331 from COPS. Buncombe County received $51,874, Forsyth County received $24,380, and Orange County received $36,470 in SCAAP grants.

The top 10 sanctuary localities for the Justice Department funding in 2021 were Chicago ($6.5 million); San Francisco ($6.4 million); Washington, D.C. ($5.1 million); San Bernardino County, California ($4.7 million); Nassau County, New York ($4.2 million); Los Angeles ($2.7 million); Clark County, Nevada ($2.3 million); Sacramento County, California ($1.9 million); Hartford, Connecticut ($1.9 million); and Alameda County, California ($1.8 million).

The Center for Immigration Studies notes that while the federal government doesn’t require grant recipients to prove they comply with federal law on sanctuary policies, the Byrne JAG grant has since 2022 required applicants to attest to use of force policies, best practices for diversity, equity and inclusion for employment decisions, and efforts to address racial, ethnic, gender, and LGBTQIA bias.

“While it may not be possible for the federal government to compel state and local governments to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, it is reasonable for the federal government to try to discourage sanctuary policies and penalize jurisdictions that choose to obstruct such a legitimate and vital federal activity,” the report read. It also said, “Congress certainly has the authority to impose conditions on federal funding programs that could block access for sanctuary jurisdictions.”

House Bill 10 is pending in the General Assembly to require sheriffs in North Carolina to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill passed the House on a vote of 71-44 in March and is now in the Senate Rules Committee.

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