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Immigrant-friendly policy cited in grant denial

The city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County will likely be losing out on about $500,000 in federal grant funding after the county last week refused to certify that it is in compliance with federal requirements.

The application for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant was for $438,000 for the city and $61,000 for the county.

But as part of the grant application, local governments were required to certify that they are in compliance with a federal statute that prohibits local governments and agencies from enacting policies that limit communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents regarding individuals’ immigration or citizenship status.

The Trump administration also has been leaning on local governments to share immigration-status records with federal agencies, provide 48 hours notice of a detainee’s release if immigration violations are suspected and give federal authorities access to jails.

“I’m definitely upset. The officers in our community want us to use every resource available to fight the dangerous crime problem we’re encountering,” Rob Perry, the city’s chief administrative officer, said Tuesday.

“I’d like to think we all want to make Albuquerque a safer place, and certainly half a million dollars could have helped.”

The grant application was submitted without certification from the county. Perry said the city included a letter explaining that the detention center is under the county’s control and that the city provides space for immigration agents at its prisoner transport center.

Perry wouldn’t speculate on the likelihood of the grant application being approved, but Bernalillo County commissioners and other top county officials were advised by the Sheriff’s Office on Friday that the prospects for funding are grim due to the county’s immigrant-friendly status.

Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson – who tried unsuccessfully last month to repeal the county’s immigrant-friendly community resolution and to replace it with one that would have brought the Metropolitan Detention Center in compliance with the U.S. Justice Department mandates – spoke about the matter during a televised debate Monday night.

“We desperately need to create partnerships with the federal government and our law enforcement partners in the region,” he said.

The county’s resolution prohibits the use of county money or personnel to ascertain anyone’s immigration status or to apprehend individuals based on their immigration status, unless required to do so by law.