Another federal court has ruled against punishing sanctuary cities

Another federal court has ruled that the government cannot punish sanctuary cities by withholding police grant money.

U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber, a Reagan appointee, said that the government could track down and deport illegal aliens but could not force cities to help them.

Washington Times:

His ruling follows similar defeats for the Trump administration in California and Philadelphia, where judges have also ruled against the administration’s attempts to condition Byrne Justice Assistance Grant money on better cooperation on immigration.

Chicago’s compliance with the conditions would damage local law enforcement’s relationship with immigrant communities and decrease the cooperation essential to prevent and solve crimes both within those communities and Chicago at large,” the judge wrote. “Trust once lost is not easily restored.”

The ruling confirms an earlier, preliminary decision that had found the government overstepped its powers.

Sanctuary cities have exploded in number since President Trump took office, as states and localities competed with each other to try to protect illegal immigrants from a stepped-up enforcement policy at the national level.

While the policies vary, at root they attempt to shield illegal immigrants from coming into the purview of federal authorities by restricting cooperation between local police and federal officers and agents.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had sought to push back, saying certain government grants would now depend on jurisdictions agreeing to share information on illegal immigrants in their care, and to give deportation officers access to local prisons and jails to be able to safely take custody of criminal migrants.

Judges have ruled that those conditions go beyond what Congress set in law, and that the executive branch cannot add them.

Sessions will no doubt appeal the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. But I think what these rulings show is that Congress is going to have to change the eligibility requirements for states and cities to tap into those law enforcement funds. The executive branch can't do it by "the stroke of a pen." Legislation must be introduced and passed that legally require cities to cooperate with ICE in enforcing the nation's immigration laws.

That, too, would be challenged but at least the courts would have to rule on the broad constitutionality of the federal government requiring state cooperation in enforcing immigration law. Currently, the courts have ruled that the executive branch is overstepping its authority in punishing states for non compliance. But if Congress mandates it, then the courts would have to rule on who makes immigration law; the courts or Congress?

Sessions bid to punish sanctuary cities was always a legal longshot, but an effort worth making.


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