Rare Court Victory for Administration Against Sanctuary Cities

Protesters rally in support of immigrant justice and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Obama-era immigration policy in Portland, Ore., on February 28, 2017. Over 750,000 people who live in the United States under DACA face uncertain futures under President Trump who vowed to repeal the policy. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***(Sipa via AP Images)

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Trump administration in a case that involves denying funding for sanctuary cities.

Los Angeles had sued the administration because it did not receive any funding from the Community Oriented Policing Services grant program, which is supposed to build trust between the police and the communities they serve. DoJ determined that L.A. was not as worthy of the grant as other municipalities due to their refusal to use the grant money to cooperate with Washington in apprehending illegal aliens.



The panel of judges ruled that “because DOJ’s scoring factors encouraged, but did not coerce, an applicant to cooperate on immigration matters, the panel also rejected Los Angeles’s claims that DOJ’s use of the factors infringed on state autonomy in a manner that raised Tenth Amendment concerns.”

“DOJ did not exceed its statutory authority in awarding bonus points to applicants that selected the illegal immigration focus area,” the judges wrote, arguing that “DOJ’s determination that the techniques of community policing may be used to address this public safety issue (illegal immigration) was entirely reasonable.”

It should be noted that this is one grant program out of several that the Trump administration had been looking to deny funding to sanctuary cities. Other courts have ruled that DoJ’s “discretionary spending” was not quite as discretionary. In fact, other courts have determined that the Justice Department must give the money to sanctuary cities — as if the courts were micromanaging government spending.

No matter. Trump will take the win wherever he can get it.


The White House praised the court’s decision, saying in a statement Friday that it “reverses a lawless decision that enabled Sanctuary City policies, putting the safety and security of all Americans in harm’s way.”

“The ruling upholds the right of the Department of Justice to ensure discretionary grants under its control are not being used to subsidize these jurisdictions’ open assault on law-abiding Americans and their loved ones,” the statement added.

Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer warns that we’re on a slippery slope to catastrophe…or something.

“If this decision were to stand, this or another administration could add other conditions, favoring jurisdictions that criminalize abortions or allow teachers to have guns in classrooms,” Feuer said, according to the LA Times.

No jurisdiction in the United States is going to “criminalize” abortion. That’s a nonsensical argument anyway. Enforcing immigration laws is a matter for the police. The grant goes to local police departments. How could any administration use funding to “reward” jurisdictions that “criminalize” abortions? It shows how weak L.A.’s arguments were that the city attorney resorts to scare tactics to convince the public.


This has always been a job for Congress. The courts can’t do very much if Congress wants to specifically exclude sanctuary cities from some funding, or require the funds to be spent by cities that cooperate in immigration enforcement. Of course, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. So for the time being, it’s up to the courts.


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