Appeals Court Hands Trump First Victory Over Sanctuaries
In a major victory for the Trump administration, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled against immigrant sanctuaries.
In a major victory for the Trump administration, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled against immigrant sanctuaries. New York City and seven states are self-declared sanctuaries that limit their cooperation with federal authorities in immigration matters.
New Requirements in Question
The decision handed down Wednesday ruled “President Trump acted within his authority” to refuse funding for sanctuary states, Deanna Paul reported for The Wall Street Journal. NYC and the sanctuary states took the Justice Department to court when it decided to withhold a grant for local law enforcement agencies, unless they complied with federal agencies in fighting illegal immigration, according to CNN.
A lower court sided with the sanctuary states, but the appeals court reversed that decision, declaring that the conditions for receiving federal grants do not “intrude on powers reserved to the States” and help Washington enforce federal laws.
The requirements, rolled out in 2017, give federal agencies access to state and local jails and mandate local authorities inform the Department of Homeland Security prior to releasing an undocumented immigrant on the DHS radar.
The First Ruling for Trump
In this respect, President Donald Trump is not much different than his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who introduced policies allowing DHS the first right to an undocumented person released from federal prison. Previously, they could have walked free and sought asylum in a sanctuary state.
NYC and the sanctuary states charged the Justice Department with instituting policies that were politically motivated, a notion Judge Reena Raggi rejected.
“These conditions help the federal government enforce national immigration laws and policies supported by successive Democratic and Republican administrations,” Judge Raggi wrote.
The unanimous ruling from the three-judge panel was largely based on the “form- and rule-making authority” granted to the US Attorney General.
“While the Attorney General certainly cannot exercise that authority arbitrarily or capriciously,” the ruling stated, “the authority itself cannot fairly be characterized as ‘exceptionally limited.”
The Fight Isn’t Over
Immediate reactions from the Justice Department and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signaled the fight is not over, Annie Correal wrote for The New York Times.
“Today’s decision rightfully recognizes the lawful authority of the attorney general to ensure that Department of Justice grant recipients are not at the same time thwarting federal law enforcement priorities,” said Alexei Woltornist, spokesman for the Justice Department, praising the ruling.
De Blasio disagreed, citing the security risk of withholding law enforcement funding for America’s largest city.
“We’ll see President Trump back in court,” de Blasio declared. “And we will win.”
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants were the focus of the appeals court ruling. NYC receives $4 million per year from the fund to cover law enforcement salaries and costs associated with prosecuting drug crimes. The program was created to honor New York Police Officer Eddie Byrne who fell in the line of duty while protecting a cooperating witness.
Officials in sanctuary states have argued Trump’s policies would create an environment in which undocumented immigrants fear reporting crimes and cooperating with police.
In three other cases, appeals courts have ruled in favor of state rights on the issue and have maintained a status quo in favor of sanctuary states. However, with the latest verdict in New York, the stage is set for a Supreme Court trial.
New York is also fighting the administration in court over Washington’s refusal to give its residents access to Trusted Traveler programs unless it opens its driver license database to DHS. In that case, federal officials argue it needs access to run background checks, but as New York issues licenses to undocumented immigrants, it believes the policy is political retaliation.