LOS ANGELES (CN) – The city of Los Angeles sued the Trump administration Wednesday for withholding federal funds from “sanctuary cities” that don’t comply with federal immigration policies, adding another lawsuit in a series of disputes with the Justice Department.
“[The Department of Justice’s] unilateral and unauthorized attempt to hold hostage federal
funding that Congress authorized to support State and local criminal justice programs,
and to instead cause State and local agencies to assist with federal civil immigration
enforcement, is unconstitutional and unlawful, and cannot be allowed to stand,” the city states in its 33-page lawsuit.
The city of San Francisco filed a similar lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the federal government’s grant restrictions are “nothing more than repackaged versions of the [Fiscal Year] 2017 requirements that courts across the country have struck down.”
Los Angeles receives about $1 million in federal funds each year from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which pays for local prosecutors and anti-gang programming.
But under the Trump administration, the city of Los Angeles needs to comply with federal immigration policies – including allowing immigration agents into correctional facilities to check on the status of inmates and informing the government 48 hours before an immigrant is released from local custody — to receive that funding.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer says the city won’t accept those terms.
According to Feuer, Los Angeles did not receive funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant in 2017, but the city intends to apply again this year.
Last year, the city of Los Angeles filed a separate lawsuit over the same application process, that time relating to the 2017 fiscal year grant requirements.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced funding would be tied to a city’s compliance with the federal government’s immigration policies in 2017. But last month, a federal judge in Illinois blocked the Justice Department’s plans to withhold money from sanctuary cities. Although the ruling was meant to apply nationwide, it is currently limited to Chicago pending review by an appellate court.
Feuer said the conditions set in the Byrne application disregard a ruling from a Los Angeles federal court earlier this year, in which the judge found that immigration-related conditions for a different federal grant program violated the General Welfare Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the state’s rule-making procedures.
“We contacted Attorney General Sessions and said, ‘look, you’ve seen what happened here in the court of Los Angeles on essentially the same terms. Don’t apply them again to this new public safety grant,’” Feuer said at a press conference Wednesday.
“At the end of the day, it cannot be the case that we have to relitigate the core questions as to whether the Trump administration can attach unconstitutional conditions that relate to civil immigration enforcement in public safety grants,” said Feuer.