FILE - In this April 14, 2017, file photo, protesters hold up signs outside a courthouse in San Francisco. A federal appeals court has given the Trump administration a rare legal win in its efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities. In a 2-1 decision Friday, July 12, 2019, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Justice Department was within its rights to give priority status for multimillion-dollar community policing grants to departments that agree to cooperate with immigration officials. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

Appeals court gives Trump a win in sanctuary city case

The 2-1 opinion overturned a nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in Los Angeles

A federal appeals court gave President Donald Trump a rare legal win in his efforts to crack down on “sanctuary cities” Friday, upholding the Justice Department’s decision to give preferential treatment in awarding community policing grants to cities that co-operate with immigration authorities.

The 2-1 opinion overturned a nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in Los Angeles. The court said awarding extra points in the application process to cities that co-operate was consistent with the goals of the grant program created by Congress.

“The Department is pleased that the Court recognized the lawful authority of the Administration to provide favourable treatment when awarding discretionary law-enforcement grants to jurisdictions that assist in enforcing federal immigration laws,” the Justice Department said in an emailed statement.

ALSO READ: No plans yet for other B.C. districts to declare sanctuary schools for refugees

“This ruling reverses a lawless decision that enabled Sanctuary City policies, putting the safety and security of all Americans in harm’s way,” the White House said later Friday in an emailed statement. “We urge citizens across America to demand that Democrat leaders cease their support for Sanctuary policies that deprive Americans of life, limb, and liberty.”

Federal courts have blocked some efforts by the administration to withhold money from sanctuary cities, including an executive order issued by the president in 2017 that would have barred them from receiving federal grants “except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.” Courts also barred the Justice Department from imposing new immigration enforcement-related conditions on Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, the biggest source of federal funding to state and local jurisdictions.

The 9th Circuit’s ruling Friday concerned a different program, Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grants, which are used to hire more police officers. Previously, the Justice Department has given extra points to cities that agree to hire veterans, or that operate early intervention systems to identify officers with personal issues, or that have suffered school shootings.

In 2017, under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department for the first time decided extra points would go to cities that listed immigration enforcement as a priority or that certified they would co-operate with federal immigration authorities by allowing them access to detainees in city jails and giving 48 hours’ notice before an undocumented immigrant was released from custody.

Los Angeles applied for a grant that year, but declined to list immigration enforcement as a priority — it listed building community trust instead — or to make the certification. It failed to win, and it sued.

The Justice Department had introduced conditions that impermissibly coerced the grant applicants to enforce federal immigration law, the city said. It also said the immigration-related conditions were contrary to the goals for which Congress had approved the grant money: to get more police on the beat, developing trust with the public.

The judges in the majority, Sandra Ikuta and Jay Bybee, both appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, rejected that.

“Cooperation relating to enforcement of federal immigration law is in pursuit of the general welfare, and meets the low bar of being germane to the federal interest in providing the funding to ‘address crime and disorder problems, and otherwise … enhance public safety,’” Ikuta wrote.

Several other jurisdictions did win funding without agreeing to the DOJ’s immigration enforcement preferences, she noted.

Judge Kim Wardlaw, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, dissented, calling the majority’s opinion “Orwellian” in the way it tried to equate federal immigration enforcement with enhanced community policing.

“Nothing in the congressional record nor the Act itself remotely mentions immigration or immigration enforcement as a goal,” she wrote. “In the quarter-century of the Act’s existence, Congress has not once denoted civil immigration enforcement as a proper purpose for COPS grants.”

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Supporters of sanctuary cities say that encouraging local police to participate in federal immigration enforcement is counterproductive: People will be less likely to report crimes if they believe they’ll be deported for doing so. But the 9th Circuit’s opinion found that to be a question of policy, not law, said David Levine, a professor at University of California Hastings College of the Law.

“What the Justice Department was doing before, they were trying to force sanctuary cities to do things, and yank money from them retroactively if they didn’t,” Levine said. “They’ve gotten a little more sophisticated now. They’re saying, ‘You don’t have to take this money, but if you want it, it comes with strings attached.’ That’s a well understood way the federal government gets states to do things. You don’t use a stick, you use a carrot.”

Gene Johnson, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summer Villages halt Stettler County’s Buffalo Lake amendment request

White Sands and Rochon Sands oppose density increase at Buffalo Lake RV Resort

Central Alberta’s Gord Bamford adds Bashaw and Hanna dates to the #REDNEK Music Fest

The tour features Jess Moskaluke and other special guests

The Stettler Board of Trade welcomes 2020 board of directors

The board is an organization comprised of business owners and municipal representation

On Feb. 26th, practice kindness and wear pink to symbolize that you do not tolerate bullying

Bullying is a major problem in our schools, workplaces, homes, and online

Working Well Workshop coming to White Sands

Informative water well management workshop will help residents protect their drinking water

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Trudeau says Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades a critical moment for country

First Nations leaders suggest it may be time to peacefully end the blockades

AFN national chief calls for calm on Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades

Hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural-gas pipeline

Federal, B.C. ministers seek meeting with Wet’suwet’en in hope of blockade solution

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route

Flight to evacuate Canadians from cruise ship ‘expected’ to depart Japan on Thursday

Canadians seeking to return to home by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Wetaskiwin RCMP Investigate Shooting incident in Poplar Grove

VW sedan may be linked to Wetaskiwin gun incident

Wetaskiwin RCMP seeking witnesses to car-jacking

Armed theft resulted in two subjects facing multiple charges

Most Read