Monday, December 11, 2023

9th Circuit Blocks Trump Bid to Defund Sanctuary Cities

'These grant conditions were yet another attempt at presidential overreach, and we have put a stop to it...'

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the Trump administration cannot withhold federal grants from California’s sanctuary cities.

This ruling contradicts an earlier ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which stated that the federal government does, in fact, have the authority to set conditions on federal grant programs.

In this case, the Trump administration tried to block sanctuary cities from receiving money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Program, which provides funding for law enforcement. 

Ironically, one of the prime legal challengers, Los Angeles County, has since begun discussions about defunding its police at the local level while still insisting upon its right to federal money despite refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

The 2nd Circuit declined to reconsider its ruling on Monday and stood by its previous decision.

The US Supreme Court also declined a request by the Trump administration to review California’s sanctuary laws last month, though the conflicting appellate decisions now makes it more likely that the Supreme Court will get involved.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera praised the 9th Circuit’s ruling, calling the Trump administration’s efforts to cut the city off as “presidential overreach.”

“The rule of law has carried the day once again. We’re pleased the courts have again recognized that San Francisco’s sanctuary laws and policies comply with federal law,” he said in a statement. “These grant conditions were yet another attempt at presidential overreach, and we have put a stop to it.”

According to the 2nd Circuit, the federal government has broad power over the states when it comes to immigration policies.

Furthermore, the plain language of relevant law makes clear that the U.S. Justice Department can impose conditions on states and municipalities receiving money.

Trump vowed after the 2nd Circuit’s decision that his administration would be withholding funds from sanctuary cities.

Barring a court injunction forcing the dispersal of grant money to the cities in question, it’s unlikely that policy will now change during the current administration unless the Supreme Court weighs in. 

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