Justice Department Ends Trump-Era Limits on Grants to ‘Sanctuary Cities’

April 29, 2021 Updated: April 29, 2021

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department has repealed a policy put in place during Donald Trump’s presidency that cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

In an internal memo seen by Reuters, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs Maureen Henneberg said that prior grant recipients, including cities, counties and states that were recipients of the department’s popular $250 million annual grant program for local law enforcement, will no longer be required to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a condition of their funding.

She also ordered staff to take down any pending Justice Department grant applications with similar strings attached and start the process over again.

In the memo, Henneberg, who leads the department’s largest grant-making arm, said she had instructed staff to “pull down and revise all solicitations that describe requirements or priority consideration elements or criteria pertaining to immigration.”

“These solicitations will be reposted and grantees will be required to reapply,” she added.

It is one of a series of decisions by Attorney General Merrick Garland, an appointee of President Joe Biden, to break with policies put in place during the Trump administration.

Shortly after being sworn in, Biden overturned a Trump executive order that had allowed the Justice Department to pressure cities that refused to notify federal immigration authorities when people living in the United States illegally have been detained for criminal violations, including minor ones.

Garland on April 14 ordered the department to begin to implement the change.