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City of Alameda Refuses Federal Funding Over Sanctuary City Status

The City of Alameda has put Sanctuary City status ahead of federal funding. (File photo)

The City of Alameda has decided to forgo federal public safety funding, putting its declared sanctuary city status first.

The City of Alameda’s annual budget, including grant funds and other non-General Fund monies, for services such as police, fire, parks, roads, and sidewalks is $249 million.

For the last ten years, one source of the municipality’s grant funding has been the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) grant, with awards ranging from $32,139 in 2007 to $12,352 in 2016.

This year, Alameda’s JAG funding was estimated to be $11,537.

However, to apply for the grant this year, the Department of Justice required the City Manager to certify that the City of Alameda does not restrict sending or receiving information regarding citizenship or immigration status.

A media release from the City of Alameda this week explained that, “because this new requirement does not meet the intent of the Alameda City Council’s Sanctuary City Resolution, neither the City Manager nor the City Attorney, with concurrence from the Police Chief, agreed to sign the document.”

Without a signed Certification of Compliance, the Alameda Police Department will not be able to accept an award from the USDOJ.

Earlier this year, Alameda’s City Council adopted a resolution affirming the City of Alameda’s policy of not notifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement when booking arrestees at the county jail, and not detaining individuals solely for the purpose of notifying immigration authorities.

So-called “illegal immigration” is a violation of federal civil law; Alameda police may still detain an individual when they have entered the U.S. in violation of a federal criminal law.

Forgery of an immigration document would be an example of a federal criminal violation, while remaining in the country past the legally defined time period, or simply sneaking across the border with no immigration documents, would be examples of civil violations.

More generally, Alameda police may still co-operate with federal authorities on criminal investigations involving immigrants.

The City of Alameda’s sanctuary city declaration is intended to affirm the stand the city has taken for many years against biased, racist, and unconstitutional acts against undocumented immigrants.

City officials claim that Alameda is the first city in the county that refused to sign the Certification of Compliance from the USDOJ.

If pending lawsuits from the State of California and City of San Francisco prove successful, the City of Alameda may be able to receive these grant funds in the future.

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