Alameda, citing sanctuary city policy, rejects federal grant

ALAMEDA
Months after Alameda became one of the first cities in the county to pass legislation declaring sanctuary city status, they now may be the first to reject a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Last week, Alameda city officials declined to sign a document required by the Department of Justice in order to apply for federal Justice Assistance Grants (JAG). Signing the document would certify that Alameda “does not restrict sending or receiving information regarding citizenship or immigration status.”

But the city says signing the document would violate its sanctuary city policy approved Jan. 17–three days before President Donald Trump‘s inauguration–that prohibits the city from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach, City Attorney Janet Kern and Police Chief Paul Rolleri declined to sign the certification, the city said Tuesday.

The move forfeits an estimated $11,537 in federal grants used primarily for law enforcement, the city said.

Alameda city officials believe it is the first city in Alameda County to reject federal grants related to status as a sanctuary city.

The potential loss of federal funding resulting from approval of the sanctuary city legislation was no surprise to the city council and, in fact, envisioned by city staff in January.

Alameda Councilmember Malia Vella, who along with Councilmember Jim Oddie, who first proposed the city become a sanctuary city, said the loss of federal funding is trivial.

“All I can say is you can’t put a price on civil liberties. $11,500 is nothing in exchange for protecting the civil rights of everyone in our community,” said Vella.

Since late January, nearly every municipality in the county eventually approved some form of a sanctuary city declaration as a bulwark against Trump’s policy on undocumented immigrants. The main holdouts remain Tri-Valley cities in east county.

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