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Pascrell Vilifies Court Rubberstamping of Trump Extortion

Holding greenlights continued withholding of funds from cities and police departments

Washington, D.C., February 26, 2020

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today assailed a decision by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which would allow the Trump administration to continue withholding congressionally-approved funds to seven states and New York City.

“This decision by these judges is nothing less than a greenlight for Donald Trump to continue his extortion against New Jersey and other states,” said Rep. Pascrell, the co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus. “The Trump government is withholding money from our local police departments to force them to enact his racist immigration policies. Trump and his allies in the Justice Department must release the money as Congress intended and not be allowed to overrule our local law enforcement agencies, putting lives at risk and our police in danger.

“And there can be no question that our courts are failing us. As the lawbreaking of this government accelerates, too many federal jurists are either naively sticking their heads into the sandbox or eagerly rubberstamping that malfeasance. Decisions like this will further encourage even more Trump corruption. This ruling should be reversed.”

New Jersey received $4.27 million in Byrne JAG grant funds in 2016. Thirteen counties and 41 towns and municipalities were awarded $1.82 million in grant funding in the FY 2017 budget. Under estimates tabulated by the federal Bureau of Justice Affairs, New Jersey was set to receive $4.04 million in FY 2017. Therefore, as New Jersey’s lawsuit highlights, the state is being denied a total of $5,871,599 in critical law enforcement support that is being held captive on the altar of the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies.

The Byrne JAG program allows states and local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crimes based on their own local needs and conditions.  Grants can be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and information systems for criminal justice for any one or more of the following programs: (1) law enforcement; (2) prosecution and the courts; (3) prevention and education; (4) corrections and community corrections; (5) drug treatment; and (6) planning, evaluation, and technology improvement.

As co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus, Rep. Pascrell has been one of the foremost leaders in Congress in seeking to protect Byrne JAG and other key funding streams for state and local law enforcement. Last week Pascrell stood in Newark City Hall with New Jersey elected officials in support of Attorney General Grewal’s new lawsuit against the Trump administration for continuing to hold hostage Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG). In November 2017, Pascrell led nine members of the New Jersey congressional delegation in pushing the Trump administration to release its Byrne JAG grant money. Later that month, Pascrell and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA-08) penned a bipartisan letter urging the Justice Department to end its embargo of $174 million in approved Byrne JAG funds earmarked for police departments throughout the country, arguing that the administration’s posture “jeopardizes [police departments’ ability] to maintain law and order and do their job effectively.” In December 2017, Pascrell and Reichert led 94 House of Representatives members demanding the release of all withheld Byrne JAG money.

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