California judge boots all anti-sanctuary grant enforcement rules

A California judge booted all immigration-related enforcement rules against sanctuary cities attached to federal law enforcement grants as arbitrary and unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court of San Francisco judge William H. Orrick granted summary judgment to California and City of San Francisco in their opposition to complying with five sets of conditions placed on the $28.9 million California received from the 2018 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG).

California was by far the largest awardee of last year's $176,763,266 in annual grants to "assist state, local, and tribal efforts to prevent or reduce crime and violence."

As part of the award process to make sure that states or cities requesting federal funds would not pass sanctuary city or state laws to prevent cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies, the grant application specifically required disclosure of "[c]ommunication with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)."  The applicant was also required to disclose (1) any laws, policies, or practices related to whether employees may communicate with DHS or ICE and (2) any state law that binds how cities may communicate with DHS and ICE.

Gov. Jerry Brown as California's chief legal officer was required to sign the "Certification of Compliance" with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, section 1373, affirming:

As of the date of this certification, neither the jurisdiction nor any entity, agency, or official of the jurisdiction has in effect, purports to have in effect, or is subject or bound by, any restriction that would apply to the "program of activity" to be funded in whole or in part under the FY 2018 OJP Program.

According to an analysis by the Law 360 blog, the U.S. Department of Justice argued that the nondisclosure conditions of the grant were intended to prevent actions such as the February 2018 social media warnings to local "undocumented workers" issued by the Mayor of Oakland that ICE was preparing illegal alien sweeps across the community.

But Judge Orrick ruled that such a nondisclosure condition could be a "Trojan horse" that could be interpreted by federal authorities beyond the "stated purposes" of controlling illegal immigration to justify behavior that he had blocked in a similar lawsuit over compliance requirements in the 2017 federal grants.

The federal judge also ruled that the U.S. Justice Department lacks the authority to require grant recipients to turn over all information regarding state and local policies communication policies with federal immigration enforcement agencies, because such federal law enforcement actions could be arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Orrick agreed with California and San Francisco that the 2018 immigration enforcement grant conditions were simply "repackaged" versions of the 2017 grant conditions restricting the federal government's access to information about an individual's immigration or citizenship status that he struck down last November.

The judge issued an injunction permanently blocking the federal government from enforcing grant immigration compliance on California and San Francisco and then ordered the U.S. Justice Department to fast-track its disbursement of the federal funds to California.  Judge Orrick added that a nationwide injunction was "warranted," but he would not enforce his court order on other jurisdictions outside of California.

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