Trump Gets Huge Sanctuary Cities Win in Federal Court

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In his first year, President Trump and his top aides had a brilliant idea: In order to curb the proliferation of sanctuary cities around the U.S., they would tie federal police funding to a commitment from these cities that they would cooperate with immigration authorities. In other words, if they wanted to ban ICE from their jails and forbid local officials from detaining illegal immigrant criminals for deportation, that would be fine – just, don’t expect to get policing funds from Washington. If you want to play ball, the funds are there. If you want to prioritize illegals over public safety? You can pay for it yourself.

The courts immediately stepped in to block the administration from implementing this rule. A federal judge in Los Angeles placed a nationwide injunction against Trump, prohibiting him from tying policing grants to a city’s willingness to obey the law. It was another classic case of “what every other president has been able to do, this one cannot.” It was another classic case of #resistance from the liberal judiciary.

This week, sanity prevailed.

In a rather rare ruling of sensible jurisprudence from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges decided 2-1 to overturn the injunction and allow the Trump administration to move forward with the plan. The appeals court said in their ruling that Congress, when creating the grant program, had provided more than enough justification for the administration to award extra points to cities that cooperated with federal law.

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

The ruling specifically centers around the Community Oriented Policing Services grants, which are given to cities to be used for the hiring of police officers. The Justice Department has tied these grants since the beginning to certain actions on the part of the receiving locales; for instance, cities that agreed to hire veterans as cops would get more money than those that didn’t. No one challenged those incentives in court, but when Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to tie immigration enforcement cooperation to the grants, the lawyers came out of the woodwork.

On Friday, the Ninth Circuit judges dismissed the argument from Los Angeles that they were being “impermissibly coerced” to enforce immigration law.

“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,’” the judges wrote.

Washington can’t – and shouldn’t – force cities and states to carry out a federal agenda. But the president is fully within his rights to withhold federal grant money from those cities and states that don’t. That’s been the way it is for decades – only with Trump in the White House have courts seen it any differently. Maybe, at long last, things are beginning to change.