WASHINGTON, D.C. -Saying that “communities across our state remain more at risk every day,” Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-9) was the lead signatory in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging the Department of Justice to disburse Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funds for Fiscal Year 2017 without further delay.

All nine Democratic members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation signed the letter. No Republicans are listed on it.

According to the letter, and an accompanying statement, the State of New Jersey is owed approximately $4 million in these funds, with Paterson slated to receive $137,928. The Byrne JAG program allows state and local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crimes  including law enforcement programs, prosecution and court programs, prevention and education programs, correction and community corrections programs, drug treatment programs and planning, evaluation and technology improvement programs. 

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The letter, dated November 6, also expresses concern that the cause for the delay in disturbing the funds is related to efforts to “punish states and local governments for their immigration laws and policies.” Not only is this potentially in violation of federal law, the letter states, it also “redirects precious resources used to combat truly violent crime.”

There has been no response to the letter which also requested a briefing from Sessions’ staff to include “a full explanation for the delay.”