Massachusetts could receive more than $30 million in federal grant funding to help state and local officials improve their ability to prevent, protect against and respond to terrorist attacks and major disasters, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The allocations, which are among a total of $1.7 billion available nationally, call for $5.4 million for Massachusetts in State Homeland Security Program grants, $17.5 million for Boston in Urban Area Security Initiative grants, $250,000 for local organizations through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and $7 million for the state in Emergency Management Performance grants.
The Massachusetts grant allocations were announced despite the Trump administration’s efforts to block federal funding to “sanctuary cities,” like Boston, a municipality which has rebuffed the White House’s calls to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants, according to reports.
Sources reportedly told McClatchy that DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen approved the grant funding to Boston and other “sanctuary cities” over objections from top agency officials.
Nielson, in announcing the release of notices of funding opportunity for eight DHS preparedness grant programs last week, stressed that “the administration remains committed to strengthening the security and resilience of our state and local communities.”
“The DHS grant programs are flexible by design and will be used to help address evolving threats. They will go toward building and sustaining capabilities across all levels of government and the whole community to maximize preparedness,” she said in a statement.
The programs seek to provide state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofits and the private sector, funding to improve readiness around terror attacks, major disasters and other emergencies, according to DHS.
Officials added that recipients are encouraged to use grant funding “to maintain and sustain current critical core capabilities through investments in training and exercises, updates to current planning and procedures and lifecycle replacement of equipment.”
DHS noted that the Fiscal Year 2018 grants will continue to focus on the United States’ highest risk areas, adding that the announced $580 million total in Urban Area Security Initiative awards will “enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 32 high-threat, high-density urban areas — a focus which represents Congress’ intent to limit UASI funding to urban areas that represent up to 85 percent of the nationwide risk.
Funding opportunities include a total of: $350 million in Emergency Management Performance grants to assist state, local, tribal and territorial governments enhance and sustain all-hazards emergency management capabilities; $1 billion through the Homeland Security Grant program for states and urban areas to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism and other threats; $100 million through the Port Security Grant Program to help protect critical infrastructure; and $60 million through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to support physical security enhancements for nonprofit organizations at high-risk of a terrorist attack.
Massachusetts state, local and other officials have until June 20 to apply to DHS for the funding.
Trump, in January 2017, signed an executive order to bar cities and other jurisdictions that fail to comply with federal law on immigration from receiving federal funds “except as mandated by law.”
A federal judge later blocked the president’s attempt to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities,” offering that Trump did not have the authority to attach such conditions to federal spending.
Last month, a federal appeals court upheld the nationwide injunction prohibiting the administration from tying federal public safety funding to cities’ cooperation with immigration enforcement.
DHS has noted that Nielsen cannot withhold the federal grant funding due to the court order.
Massachusetts lawmakers, meanwhile, have continued to stand up against the White House’s call to crack down on immigration, with the state’s Senate recently passing a controversial amendment during its budget deliberations that would bar police officers from asking people about their immigration status unless required by law.