Court rules against Trump effort to hit ‘sanctuary cities’

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a nationwide injunction that blocks the Trump administration from putting certain conditions on federal grant funding to force so-called sanctuary cities to comply with immigration enforcement efforts.

A three-judge panel on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Chicago is likely to succeed in its challenge to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ mandate that only cities that allow federal immigration officials access to detention facilities and provide 48-hour notice before they release an undocumented immigrant will receive crime-fighting funds.

The court’s decision Thursday affirms a district court’s decision to put those conditions on hold nationwide.

But one member of the bench, Judge Daniel Manion, dissented in part from the court’s decision. He said the injunction should be limited to Chicago.

“An injunction, particularly a preliminary injunction, is an extreme remedy,” he said. “A nationwide preliminary injunction is more extreme still. One should only be issued where it is absolutely necessary, and it is far from absolutely necessary here.”

In writing the opinion of the court, Judge Ilana Rovner noted that 37 cities were among the amici asking the district court to uphold the injunction and 14 states and the District of Columbia asked the 7th Circuit Court to do the same. Without nationwide relied, she argued duplicative litigation would have been likely.

“The district court appropriately held that judicial economy counseled against requiring all of those jurisdictions, and potentially others, from filing individual lawsuits to decide anew the narrow legal question in this case,” she wrote.

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) conditions came as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to enforce hardline stance on immigration, which is being challenged by sanctuary cities that have passed laws allowing local law enforcement to avoid compliance with federal authorities seeking to arrest undocumented immigrants.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley doubled down on the agency’s argument. 
“The Justice Department believes it exercised its authority, given by Congress, to attach conditions to Byrne JAG grants that promote cooperation with federal immigration authorities when the jurisdiction has an illegal alien who has committed a crime in their custody,” he said. 
O’Malley went on to criticize the court for issuing and affirming a nationwide injunction. 
“Nationwide injunctions allow a single federal district judge to set policy by ordering relief outside the scope of the particular case,” he said. 
“Many in the legal community have expressed concern that the use of nationwide injunctions is inconsistent with the separation of powers, and that their increased use creates a dangerous precedent.”
Rovner argued in her opinion that Sessions overstepped his executive authority by using “the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement.”
“But the power of the purse rests with Congress, which authorized the federal funds at issue and did not impose any immigration enforcement conditions on the receipt of such funds,” he said.
“In fact, Congress repeatedly refused to approve of measures that would tie funding to state and local immigration policies. Nor, as we will discuss, did Congress authorize the Attorney General to impose such conditions. It falls to us, the judiciary, as the remaining branch of the government, to act as a check on such usurpation of power.”
In addition to Rovner and Manion, the case was heard by Judge William Bauer. All three judges were appointed by Republican presidents.

Updated: 5:03 p.m.

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