Trump Administration Violated Constitution in Tying Funding to Immigration, Federal Judge States

In response to a legal challenge from California and the city of San Francisco, the Trump administration’s policy to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” was struck down in court Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick became the latest federal judge to rule against the policy, following previous decisions against it in Philadelphia and Chicago. Orrick found that by imposing the funding terms, the Trump administration violated the separation of powers and spending power stipulated in the U.S. Constitution.

The legal challenge concerns a July 2017 announcement by the Department of Justice that imposed new conditions aimed at barring cities with “sanctuary” policies from receiving funds through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Programs, which supports law enforcement efforts at the state and local level. The announcement came after a January 2017 executive order from President Donald Trump declaring sanctuary jurisdictions ineligible to receive federal grants, except when deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.

Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions with policies that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The new DOJ guidelines for Byrne JAG funding stipulated that grant recipients were required to provide U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with access to their correctional facilities and provide notice to ICE about the release dates of undocumented detainees.

The Trump administration contends that sanctuary policies violate Section 1373 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which says state and local officials “may not prohibit or in any way restrict any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

Orrick struck down that regulation as unconstitutional, though he also offered a narrow interpretation of the law as only requiring jurisdictions to provide information on an individual’s immigration status, which both California and San Francisco are in compliance with.

By Alison Durkee for MIC
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