Philadelphia sues Sessions over sanctuary city ban

Philadelphia sues Sessions over sanctuary city ban
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The city of Philadelphia has filed a federal lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE over the Trump administration’s proposal to add new restrictions to grants for local governments in order to block sanctuary city policies.
The city cited new conditions the Justice Department announced in July for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, which provides federal criminal justice grants to local and state governments.
The Trump administration directive requires applicants to provide Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials with access to undocumented immigrants detained by local authorities, a move targeting cities that refuse such federal requests.
“As far as we can tell, these unprecedented grant conditions are purely political,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) said in a statement Wednesday announcing the lawsuit.
“The Trump administration claims that it is imposing these to keep Philadelphians safer, but the facts don’t lie. Philadelphia isn’t breaking federal law.”
Philadelphia and other cities receiving the federal grant money have had to certify that they are in compliance with federal law that prohibits bans on communication between law enforcement agencies and ICE. The city has received assurances that it conforms to the law.
But the new Justice Department rules also require Philadelphia and other cities to give ICE 48 hours' notice before releasing any undocumented immigrants taken into custody. ICE agents must also be given access to city detention facilities to question detainees about their immigration status.
The new conditions are part of the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws and deny ICE requests to detain undocumented immigrants.
Philadelphia Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante said the city’s lawsuit will ask a federal court to determine that Sessions does not have the authority to impose the new conditions. The attorney general cannot use grant funding to force cities and counties to implement federal immigration policy, the lawsuit argues.
Philadelphia joins other cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco in suing the federal government over the new grant requirements. Philadelphia’s lawsuit asks a federal judge to block the Justice Department’s new grant requirements.
Philadelphia received $1.6 million from the JAG program in 2016, Kenney’s office said. States are eligible to receive a total of $174 million in grant funding during the 2017 fiscal year, according to the Justice Department, while cities and counties are eligible for hundreds of millions more.