Denver District Attorney Beth McCann is among 33 current and former prosecutors and law enforcement officials around the country pushing back against the U.S. Department of Justice’s move to give preferential treatment in awarding grants to cities that pledge to help the feds with immigration enforcement.
The group submitted a brief Monday in support of a lawsuit by the city of Los Angeles against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice.
Last year, the Department of Justice began asking applicants for Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants to sign a “Certification of Illegal Immigration Cooperation.” It includes a pledge to give federal immigration agents unlimited access to jails and to notify the Department of Homeland Security as soon as possible before releasing an undocumented immigrant from custody.
“These inducements would dangerously impact local communities, by requiring jurisdictions to prioritize civil immigration enforcement over public safety or else lose funding for important public safety and community initiatives,” the brief says. “These requirements would cause community members to distrust the police and justice system officials and thereby result in a decrease in cooperation, hindering the ability of local law enforcement and local prosecutors to keep their communities safe. The conditions would also drain scarce resources that would otherwise be used to enhance public safety, depriving local law enforcement and justice system leaders of the discretion necessary to determine how best to protect their communities.”
The brief also warns that the policy could result in increased crime against undocumented immigrants and would discourage them from cooperating as witnesses in criminal investigations.