Ninth Circuit Denies Rehearing on Federal Funding Halt to Sanctuary Cities

(CN) – The Ninth Circuit Tuesday denied Los Angeles’ petition for a rehearing of a decision that allowed the Justice Department to withhold law enforcement funding from sanctuary cities that do not comply with its immigration policies. 

After a divided panel of the circuit court ruled in July that the Justice Department lawfully withheld federal grants from Los Angeles, the city petitioned the court for a rehearing en banc. 

Los Angeles, California.

Among the members of the panel that denied the rehearing petition Tuesday was U.S. Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta, a George W. Bush appointee, who authored the previous opinion in which the court held that the Justice Department acted within the law by placing grant restrictions on cities for non-compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We conclude that DOJ’s policy decision has a ‘rational connection’ to the goal of enhancing public safety and was not counter to the evidence before the agency, and therefore is not arbitrary and capricious,” Ikuta wrote in the July opinion.

Los Angeles receives roughly $1 million annually in federal funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. That money is used for anti-gang programs and to pay local prosecutors.

The office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.   

The Trump administration requires cities such as Los Angeles to comply with ICE policies, which include allowing federal agents into prisons to verify the immigration status of inmates and a 48-hour window to inform the federal government when an immigrant is released from custody.   

Attorneys for the city claimed that sanctuary policies have not led to an increase in crime. The attorneys also argued that studies were unable to show a correlation between community policing and civil immigration enforcement.

In her 60-page July opinion, Ikuta determined the presence of undocumented immigrants was a public safety issue.    

U.S Circuit Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, a Bill Clinton appointee who dissented the July opinion, voted in favor of a rehearing, but the third member of the panel, Jay Bybee, also voted against the petition. Bybee is a George W. Bush appointee.

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