A United States District Court ruled in favor of the city of Los Angeles Friday and issued a preliminary injunction barring the Trump Administration from imposing civil immigration conditions on a 2017 federal public safety grant used to fight gang violence.
The court found that the Trump Administration exceeded its authority when it placed the conditions on the grant.
“The court’s action is a win for public safety in Los Angeles, and once again confirms that our nation’s system of checks and balances works,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said.
Feuer sued the Trump Administration over imposing the civil immigration conditions on the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which provides federal funding for states and cities to support local law enforcement efforts.
Since 1997, the city of Los Angeles has received more than $1 million in JAG funding annually, including $1.8 million for the 2016 fiscal year.
On July 25, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that new immigration requirements would be placed on all Byrne JAG grant applications that would require jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration laws or they would be ineligible for funding.
The Los Angeles Police Department and Feuer’s office have said they will not comply with the grant’s requirements because the conditions go against longstanding city policies to limit cooperation with federal immigration laws.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and several lower courts have issued injunctions putting a halt on the grant conditions.
Los Angeles filed its motion regarding the 2017 Byrne JAG conditions in July in response to decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the nationwide injunction on immigration-related conditions for JAG funding, limiting the impact of that injunction to the city of Chicago.
In April, in an earlier action brought by the Feuer called City of Los Angeles v. Sessions, the U.S. District Court found that the DOJ’s imposition of similar immigration-related conditions for a discretionary community policing (COPS) grant were unlawful, and imposed a nation-wide injunction preventing the federal government from including the considerations in the COPS grant.
In its recent motion, the city argued that precedent of the City of Los Angeles v. Sessions decision regarding the COPS grant supported the city’s claim that immigration-related conditions imposed on the Byrne JAG grant were also unlawful.
“To further show that the program is not to be administered according to the Attorney General’s discretion, Congress structured the Byrne JAG program as a formula grant,” United States District Judge Manuel Real wrote in his order issuing the preliminary injunction. “As stated above, the authority granted to the Attorney General with the Byrne JAG statute regarding distribution of funds is extremely limited and leaves little room for discretion.”
Sessions defended the new policies on the grants as necessary to help fight illegal immigration when he announced them in July 2017.
“So-called `sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Sessions said at the time. “These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law.”
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