The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Trump administration, on Friday, July 12, in a decision that supports the administration’s right to restrict public safety grants to sanctuary cities.
Friday’s court ruling allows the U.S. Department of Justice to withhold Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funding from jurisdictions that refuse to work with federal immigration authorities, including those who refuse to share jail records of immigrants in custody.
Sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia, have often fought against the Trump administration on enforcement of illegal immigration policies and have generally refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to identify illegal immigrants within the criminal justice system.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced in 2017 that the Justice Department would place restrictions on the COPS federal grant program where enforcement of immigration policies was not supported.
In August 2017, the city of Los Angeles then sued the administration, when the Department of Justice denied the city a $3 million grant on the grounds that it did not prioritize immigration in its community policing grant application.
A U.S. District Court in San Francisco initially ruled in favor of the city of Los Angeles in August 2018. Judge William Orrick decided that the Justice Department’s restrictions on police funding to sanctuary cities were unconstitutional. However, Judge Orrick also stayed nationwide injunctions against the DOJ policy pending review by the appeals court.
Friday, Judge Sandra Ikuta issued a decision supporting the Justice Department’s recent policy, stating, “The panel held that DOJ did not exceed its statutory authority in awarding bonus points to applicants that selected the illegal immigration focus area or that agreed to the Certification.” Judge Ikuta was joined in her decision by Judge Jay Bybee.
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