FILE - In this April 14, 2017, file photo, protesters hold up signs outside a courthouse in San Francisco. A federal appeals court has given the Trump administration a rare legal win in its efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities. In a 2-1 decision Friday, July 12, 2019, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Justice Department was within its rights to give priority status for multimillion-dollar community policing grants to departments that agree to cooperate with immigration officials. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

Appeals court gives Trump a win in sanctuary city case

The 2-1 opinion overturned a nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in Los Angeles

A federal appeals court gave President Donald Trump a rare legal win in his efforts to crack down on “sanctuary cities” Friday, upholding the Justice Department’s decision to give preferential treatment in awarding community policing grants to cities that co-operate with immigration authorities.

The 2-1 opinion overturned a nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in Los Angeles. The court said awarding extra points in the application process to cities that co-operate was consistent with the goals of the grant program created by Congress.

“The Department is pleased that the Court recognized the lawful authority of the Administration to provide favourable treatment when awarding discretionary law-enforcement grants to jurisdictions that assist in enforcing federal immigration laws,” the Justice Department said in an emailed statement.

ALSO READ: No plans yet for other B.C. districts to declare sanctuary schools for refugees

“This ruling reverses a lawless decision that enabled Sanctuary City policies, putting the safety and security of all Americans in harm’s way,” the White House said later Friday in an emailed statement. “We urge citizens across America to demand that Democrat leaders cease their support for Sanctuary policies that deprive Americans of life, limb, and liberty.”

Federal courts have blocked some efforts by the administration to withhold money from sanctuary cities, including an executive order issued by the president in 2017 that would have barred them from receiving federal grants “except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.” Courts also barred the Justice Department from imposing new immigration enforcement-related conditions on Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, the biggest source of federal funding to state and local jurisdictions.

The 9th Circuit’s ruling Friday concerned a different program, Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grants, which are used to hire more police officers. Previously, the Justice Department has given extra points to cities that agree to hire veterans, or that operate early intervention systems to identify officers with personal issues, or that have suffered school shootings.

In 2017, under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department for the first time decided extra points would go to cities that listed immigration enforcement as a priority or that certified they would co-operate with federal immigration authorities by allowing them access to detainees in city jails and giving 48 hours’ notice before an undocumented immigrant was released from custody.

Los Angeles applied for a grant that year, but declined to list immigration enforcement as a priority — it listed building community trust instead — or to make the certification. It failed to win, and it sued.

The Justice Department had introduced conditions that impermissibly coerced the grant applicants to enforce federal immigration law, the city said. It also said the immigration-related conditions were contrary to the goals for which Congress had approved the grant money: to get more police on the beat, developing trust with the public.

The judges in the majority, Sandra Ikuta and Jay Bybee, both appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, rejected that.

“Cooperation relating to enforcement of federal immigration law is in pursuit of the general welfare, and meets the low bar of being germane to the federal interest in providing the funding to ‘address crime and disorder problems, and otherwise … enhance public safety,’” Ikuta wrote.

Several other jurisdictions did win funding without agreeing to the DOJ’s immigration enforcement preferences, she noted.

Judge Kim Wardlaw, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, dissented, calling the majority’s opinion “Orwellian” in the way it tried to equate federal immigration enforcement with enhanced community policing.

“Nothing in the congressional record nor the Act itself remotely mentions immigration or immigration enforcement as a goal,” she wrote. “In the quarter-century of the Act’s existence, Congress has not once denoted civil immigration enforcement as a proper purpose for COPS grants.”

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Supporters of sanctuary cities say that encouraging local police to participate in federal immigration enforcement is counterproductive: People will be less likely to report crimes if they believe they’ll be deported for doing so. But the 9th Circuit’s opinion found that to be a question of policy, not law, said David Levine, a professor at University of California Hastings College of the Law.

“What the Justice Department was doing before, they were trying to force sanctuary cities to do things, and yank money from them retroactively if they didn’t,” Levine said. “They’ve gotten a little more sophisticated now. They’re saying, ‘You don’t have to take this money, but if you want it, it comes with strings attached.’ That’s a well understood way the federal government gets states to do things. You don’t use a stick, you use a carrot.”

Gene Johnson, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been called in

PHOTOS: West Coast Christmas Show and Artisan Market at Tradex

Over the past 11 years the show has been attended by over 175,000 visitors

SARA for Women names new executive director

Jennifer Breakspear accepts position after two months as interim ED

The Debaters take on the holidays in live show

Hit CBC Radio show comes to Abbotsford Arts Centre on Nov. 22

Advocate for the homeless receives UFV’s Young Distinguished Alumni Award

Jesse Wegenast of Chilliwack recognized for extensive community work in Abbotsford

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

VIDEO: Giants toppled by visiting Hurricanes

Sunday afternoon play at Langley Events Centre saw a team from Lethbridge defeat Vancouver, 6-0

Security camera records hatchet attack on Langley store owner

Target escaped uninjured, but was ‘upset’ by incident

PHOTOS: Snoozing seal pup captures attention at White Rock Pier

Dozens of seals spent the day at White Rock’s iconic structure

VIDEO: Collision in Surrey breaks axle off SUV

Two people were reportedly sent to hospital

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Most Read