Immigrants at a swearing in ceremony

Immigrants at a swearing-in ceremony for U.S. citizenship at the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2007.

The state has asked a federal judge to make the U.S. Department of Justice release millions of dollars for law enforcement, held up over an immigration policy dispute.

The Denver Post reported that between 2005 and 2017, Colorado received $40 million from a federal grant program to policing agencies known as Byrne JAG.

Under the Trump administration, states must comply with conditions related to immigration, among which is the requirement to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement into jails.

“The state of Colorado … has no authority to force local and municipal agencies or government entities to meet these special conditions, and no means of enforcing repercussions against those that do not,” an affidavit in the state’s filing read.

Colorado is calling the conditions unconstitutional. The Justice Department described them as “modest and lawful.”

The Post documented multiple past and potential projects to lose funding were the state to lose its case: a new patrol car in Granby, a restorative justice program in Alamosa, treatment and re-entry assistance in Denver. 

“Employees and the public are not safe as the situation currently exists,” the Montezuma County sheriff wrote. A grant would have helped hire three deputies to relieve overburdened courthouse guards. “With a growing population resulting in a higher number of cases and visitors coming through the courtroom, this problem is only worsening.”

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