Court Battles

Federal judge in New York rules against Trump in sanctuary cities case

A federal judge on Friday ruled against the Trump administration’s move to withhold grant funding from law enforcement agencies of so-called sanctuary cities, saying it was illegal and unconstitutional.

Judge Edgardo Ramos, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said the government “did not have lawful authority” to make states alert federal agents when an undocumented immigrant is going to be released from state or local custody and allow federal agents to question immigrants in custody about their legal status in order for states and cities to receive funding.

{mosads}In his ruling, Ramos blocked the government from enforcing those conditions on New York, New York City and the six states that also challenged the requirements: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) called the court’s decision a major win.

“As we argued, local law enforcement has the right to decide how to meet their local public safety needs — and the Trump administration simply does not have the right to require state and local police to act as federal immigration agents,” she said. “The Trump administration’s attempt to withhold these vital funds was nothing more than a political attack at the expense of our public safety.”

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in July 2017 that states had to follow three conditions to qualify for federal funding: alert federal agents when an undocumented immigrant is going to be released from state or local custody; allow federal agents to question immigrants in custody; and ensure they are not restricting state and local law enforcement officials from providing federal agents with information about the legal status of undocumented immigrants.

The challengers in Friday’s case had asked Ramos to issue a nationwide injunction, but he said they had not shown that such a move was necessary to afford them relief. He also noted the scope of other district court decisions have been limited.

A judge for the Northern District of Illinois issued an injunction blocking the administration from enforcing the conditions nationwide in September 2017. The ruling was affirmed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the court later put its nationwide scope on hold pending a review by the court’s full panel of judges.
In November 2017, a district court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania blocked the administration from enforcing the conditions on Philadelphia. The federal government has appealed that ruling to the 3rd Circuit. And a district court in California last month blocked the condition from being enforced on the city and county of San Francisco.

Updated at 1:53 p.m.

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