New York, NY – A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that President Donald Trump’s administration does have the authority to withhold law enforcement grant money from cities and states who refuse to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
A federal judge initially ruled against the Trump administration’s attempt to withhold federal grant funding from law enforcement agencies in so-called “sanctuary cities” in December of 2018.
Judge Edgardo Ramos, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, called the President’s order illegal and unconstitutional, The Hill reported.
Ramos said the federal government “did not have lawful authority” to order certain conditions for handling immigrants in order to receive the funding.
The ruling blocked the federal government from enforcing those conditions in New York, New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.
The lawsuit referred to the Department of Justice’s attempt to put immigration-related conditions on grants to local law enforcement, ABC News reported.
The conditions were announced by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017, and said that in order to qualify for federal funding, local authorities had to alert federal agents when an undocumented immigrant was going to be released from state or local custody, allow federal agents to question immigrants in custody, and ensure they aren’t restricting state and local law enforcement officials from providing federal agents with information about the legal status of undocumented immigrants.
After ruling in their favor, Ramos declined the petitioners’ request for a nationwide ruling on the matter, and said that they had not shown it was necessary, The Hill reported.
“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,” New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said when she took credit for the win.
“The Trump administration’s attempt to withhold these vital funds was nothing more than a political attack at the expense of our public safety,” Underwood said.
“This decision requires the Trump administration to distribute these vital public safety funds — helping to ensure that our local law enforcement agencies are able to continue to determine how best to keep New Yorkers safe,” she said.
The President has continued to battle for control of the funding in various courts across the nation and the win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Feb. 26 means his administration can once again cut funding to so-called “sanctuary” states and cities, the Associated Press reported.
A unanimous three-judge panel held that the way Congress wrote the law, the U.S. attorney general may put conditions on states and municipalities who are receiving federal grant money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, The Hill reported.
“Repeatedly and throughout its pronouncement of Byrne Program statutory requirements, Congress makes clear that a grant applicant demonstrates qualification by satisfying statutory requirements in such form and according to such rules as the Attorney General establishes,” Justice Reena Raggi wrote in the panel’s opinion. “This confers considerable authority on the Attorney General.”