U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the Trump Administration cannot withhold
federal public safety funds from so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to
cooperate with federal immigration agents. The Sept. 15 ruling by Judge Harry Leinenweber states
that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not have the authority to restrict
payment of federal law enforcement grants and that doing so would violate the
Constitution’s separation of powers. Judge Leinenweber’s injunction against the
Administration applies nationwide. The City of Chicago had asked for the
preliminary injunction until its lawsuit against the Justice Department is
Justice Department would have required sanctuary cities to give federal
officials 48-hours notice when releasing potentially undocumented individuals
from custody. The administration threatened to withhold public safety funds,
known as Edward Byrne Memorial Justice
Assistance Grants, if such notice was not given or if federal immigration
officials were not given access to local jails.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, California State
legislators passed a “sanctuary state” bill to protect undocumented immigrants
throughout the state. This bill limits state and local law enforcement
communication with federal immigration authorities and prevents officers from
questioning and holding people on immigration violations.
Only nine days later, a federal appeals
court gave Texas more autonomy to enforce a ban on sanctuary cities—backed by
the Trump administration. The court held that Texas can require its law
enforcement to honor federal immigration requests to detain people in local
jails for possible deportation.
In a unanimous
the three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the
state can enforce two sections of the law, allowing some controversial portions
of the law to go into effect but limiting their punitive effects. The court
held that local agencies must cooperate “according to existing ICE detainer practice
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken
Paxton hailed the latest decision as allowing the state to “enforce the core”
of the law. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals ruling negates some of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia's Aug. 31
halt to much of the law one day before it was to go into effect.
The law’s opponents argue it violates
Amendment by requiring police to detain people
suspected of illegal immigration without probable cause. They also say it puts
local police in the federal role of immigration enforcement officers and is
unconstitutionally vague as to exactly when a local law enforcement officer
would be in violation of the law.
ACLU Attorney Lee Gelernt also says the
Circuit Court’s ruling “significantly narrowed” what is allowed to take effect
for now. The decision is a temporary ruling until oral arguments, set to take
place in the appeals court in November.