A hot issue at the Tuesday, Aug. 18 City Council meeting will be whether or not to accept a Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) of $242,000.
After initially accepting the JAG in December 2019, in January the City Council voted 5-3 not to accept the $250,000 in JAG funds because a speaker from the Working class & Homeless Organizing Alliance said it would require the Greensboro Police Department to cooperate with Immigration Control Enforcement (ICE) Division of Homeland Security.
Those voting against accepting the federal grant in January were Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Michelle Kennedy, Sharon Hightower, Tammi Thurm and Yvonne Johnson. Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Justin Outling and Nancy Hoffmann voted in favor of accepting the federal money. Councilmember Goldie Wells was absent.
This is a recurring grant that Greensboro had accepted in the past with no discussion, as it did in December before turning it down after much discussion in January.
Greensboro receives the grant on behalf of the Greensboro Police Department, the High Point Police Department and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department. In January, because Greensboro turned down the JAG money, High Point and Guilford County got to split the money originally allocated to Greensboro.
Of the $242,000 JAG funds, Greensboro would receive $133,000.
Abuzuaiter said, “I’ll fight for this one just as much as I fought for the last one.”
She added, “Our JAG funds have only been used to reduce crime in one way or another.”
Abuzuaiter is known as a strong supporter of the immigrant community and she said, “The only thing they ask us is what is the immigration status of this person, but we don’t have any information on immigration status, so to me it is a moot point.”
Assistant City Manager Trey Davis sent an email to city councilmembers that stated much the same thing. The email from Davis states, “The main requirement in question is the receiving agency cannot be under what is called an ‘information-communication restriction.’ This simply means that the agency cannot refuse to provide immigration information in its possession to Immigration Officials if requested. The Greensboro Police Department does not collect information to determine immigration status, thus there would be no information related to immigration status to be provided.”
Davis also states that the other conditions state that Greensboro will not interfere with federal law enforcement and will not use JAG funding to interfere with federal law enforcement.