Trump Issues Final Warning to Sanctuary Cities: Comply or Lose Funding
The Trump administration is losing patience with 29 sanctuary cities that have yet to prove to the Justice Department that they are in compliance with federal immigration requirements. In a missive to those cities on Wednesday, the DOJ warned them that they have until December 8 to prove compliance if they want to hold onto their federal grants.
“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a press release. “I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents.”
The letters, signed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson, called on the recipients to either come into compliance with the law or pay back the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants they had received in 2016.
The point of contention in the administration’s ongoing legal battle against these jurisdictions is U.S. Code, Section 1373, which states that cities, states, and municipalities may not take any action that prohibits public employees from sharing an individual’s immigration status with federal agents. The Justice Department has decided that law means that federal law forbids these cities and states from barring police from asking about immigration status and from holding arrested illegals in their jails until ICE has a chance to come round them up. And they are using federal grant money to ensure that these cities comply with the letter of the law.
“I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents,” Sessions said. “We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373, but also to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”
Unfortunately, it is already clear that the Trump administration is going to have to take this battle all the way to the Supreme Court. In much the same way that federal judges used extralegal reasons to block the president’s travel ban, the courts are using a very narrow reading of the law to contend that the Justice Department is flirting with unconstitutional practices. In a case involving Philadelphia, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson said the DOJ could not withhold its enforcement grants simply because the city refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
He went even further, saying in his decision that it was wrong to call Philadelphia a sanctuary city in the first place. “Philadelphia is not a sanctuary for anyone involved in criminal conduct,” he wrote, “nor is it a sanctuary as to any law enforcement investigation, prosecution, or imprisonment after having been found guilty of a crime.”
Sorry, but that only works if you excuse illegal immigration as being a practice outside the realm of “criminal conduct.” And if you do that, then you’re essentially saying that illegal immigration is not a crime, which is to say that we have no law against illegal immigration.
So yeah, we’d really like to hear the Supreme Court weigh in on this, because this ruling is, as Gwen Stefani might say, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.