For the 32nd year in a row, NYPD brass, police officers and FDNY personnel gathered outside the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica early Wednesday to pay homage to NYPD Officer Edward Byrne, who was assassinated in his patrol car while guarding a house in South Jamaica in 1988. The execution occurred as the crack epidemic raged and four men were arrested and brought to trial for the Byrne murder acting on orders from jailed drug kingpin Harold “Pappy” Mason.
Byrne was just 22 years old when he was shot in the head five times. He was guarding the home of an immigrant witness who agreed to testify against Mason at Inwood Street and 107th Street.
Hours after Byrne’s memorial ceremony, a three-judge panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Department of Justice could withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with the Trump administration’s ongoing crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The panel’s opinion found that Congress had delegated authority to the attorney general to set conditions on the program it created to provide federal criminal justice funding under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
The ruling means the Trump administration can withhold millions of federal dollars from New York City and seven other states over their sanctuary policies on immigration.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions deliberately imperil the safety of the American people by releasing criminal aliens onto city streets, instead of handing them over to federal authorities,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “Today’s unanimous decision by the Second Circuit upholds the Department of Justice’s lawful authority to require jurisdictions that receive federal grant money under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to obey the law and not impede the removal of criminal aliens.
City Hall offered a dissenting opinion.
“President Trump’s latest retaliation against his hometown takes away security funding from the number one terrorist target in America, all because we refuse to play by his arbitrary rules,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “No one knows how to keep New Yorkers safe better than the men and the women of the NYPD. The President is starving them of the very resources named in honor of one of New York’s Finest, Officer Eddie Byrne.”
The de Blasio administration has long-argued that the city’s low crime rate is essentially due to immigrant communities feeling safe enough to cooperate with law enforcement without fear of immigration status.
“New York City is the safest big city in the nation and the public safety of all New Yorkers continues to be our top priority,” Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi said. “Officer Eddie Byrne’s legacy reminds us that maintaining strong relationships with immigrant communities keeps all New Yorkers safe. New York City stands with our immigrant brothers and sisters and that will never change.”