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    Appeals Court upholds Trump withholding Justice Department grants from sanctuary cities

    Appeals Court upholds Trump withholding Justice Department grants from sanctuary cities

    2nd Circuit: “the plain language of the relevant statutes authorizes the Attorney General to impose the challenged conditions”

    Another day, another appeals court reversing a district court injunction which intefered with the legitimate constitutional and statutory powers of the president. We’ve covered this problem of such district court injunctions many times before.

    The case dates back to 2018, via Courthouse News:

    Rejecting the government’s attempts to tie public-safety grants to immigration policy, a federal judge handed a victory Friday to New York City and six states with sanctuary jurisdictions.

    “This case is fundamentally about the separation of powers among the branches of our government and the interplay of dual sovereign authorities in our federalist system,” U.S. District Judge Edgaro Ramos wrote in the order, granting a permanent injunction against three conditions that had been put on the funding.

    The Justice Department had announced the restrictions in July 2017 under then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying any cities and states that refuse to help federal agents detain undocumented immigrants at local jails would lose out on $385 million in justice assistance grants. JAG grants, as they are known, are named for slain New York City police officer Eddie Byrne.

    Together with New York City, which has its own sanctuary policy, the Empire State, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Washington and Massachusetts stood to lose a total of $25 million under the new federal scheme. The coalition cast the policy as unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit, and New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood applauded Ramos on Friday for striking it down.

    The Second Circuit Court of Appeals just reversed (h/t Adam Klasfeld). Here’s the summary from the Opinion (emphasis added):

    The principal legal question presented in this appeal is whetherthe federal government may deny grants of money to State and local governments that would be eligible for such awards but for their refusal to comply with three immigration‐related conditions imposed by the Attorney General of the United States. Those conditions require grant applicants to certify that they will (1) comply with federal law prohibiting any restrictions on the communication of citizenship and alien status information with federal  mmigration authorities, see 8 U.S.C. § 1373; (2) provide federal authorities, upon request, with the release dates of incarcerated illegal aliens; and (3) afford federal immigration officers access to incarcerated illegal aliens….

    At its core, this appeal presents questions of statutory construction. In proceedings below, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Edgardo Ramos, Judge) determined that the Attorney General was not statutorily authorized to impose the challenged conditions and, therefore, enjoined their application. See New York v. Dep’t of Justice, 343 F. Supp. 3d 213 (S.D.N.Y. 2018). The thoughtful opinion of the district court requires us to examine the authorization question in detail. For reasons explained in this opinion, we conclude that the plain language of the relevant statutes authorizes the Attorney General to impose the challenged conditions.

    In concluding otherwise, the district court relied on, among other things, an opinion of the Seventh Circuit in City of Chicago v. Sessions, 888 F.3d 272 (7th Cir. 2018). While mindful of the respect owed to our sister circuits, we cannot agree that the federal government must be enjoined from imposing the challenged conditions on the federal grants here at issue. These conditions help the federal government enforce national immigration laws and policies supported by successive Democratic and Republican administrations. But more to the authorization point, they ensure that applicants satisfy particular statutory grant requirements imposed by Congress and subject to Attorney General oversight.

    Given what appears to be a conflict among the Circuits, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will take the case (where Trump likely will win again). But in the meantime, the crackdown can continue.


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    artichoke | February 26, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    The crackdown can continue in the 2nd circuit. In 3 other circuits, it cannot continue. Hope SCOTUS cleans this up soon, with the right decision!

    Gerald86 | March 2, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    The 2nd Circuit judges were Ralph K. Winter (Reagan), Jose Cabranes (Clinton) and Reena Raggi (GWB). Please put the judges name in the first paragraph using this nomenclature to identify the president who appointed them. Also, was the vote unanimous? Do you have a good link that would give me these facts?

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