Los Angeles took on the Trump Administration over the president’s “sanctuary city” immigrant policies Monday when the city filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.
The lawsuit battles the feds over efforts to withhold crime-fighting grant funds from jurisdictions it disagrees with on immigration policy, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Monday.
Feuer had said in August he was looking to join a similar lawsuit filed by the city of San Francisco, but a judge there told Los Angeles to file its own lawsuit, which occurred on Friday.
“We’re fighting the Trump administration’s continuing attempts to violate the law by using federal funds as a `weapon’ to advance the president’s immigration agenda,” Feuer said.
The lawsuit stems from the U.S. Justice Department’s new requirements for Community Oriented Policing Services grants and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
The new requirements for the Byrne grant include that jurisdictions would not be eligible unless they provide 48 hours notice before they “release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”
The COPS guidelines award bonus points to jurisdictions that agree to focus the use of grant funds on illegal immigration and commit to policies at their detention facilities to promote the federal government’s immigration policies.
Feuer said he objected to the guidelines for several legal reasons, including that the Justice Department does not have the authority to impose rules on the grants because they were created by Congress.
The city attorney also argues the Byrne guidelines ae impractical because by law, the city’s police department cannot hold someone past 48 hours unless an arrest falls around a weekend, making the guidelines unconstitutional.
Feuer also said his office filed an application for a preliminary injunction to stop the guidelines on the COPS grant, but did not seek one for the Byrne grants because a federal judge in Chicago blocked the Trump administration’s rules on the grant in September.
The Los Angeles Police Department since 1979 has had a policy of restricting its enforcement of federal immigration laws, which has put it in conflict with President Donald Trump as he has looked for various ways into get local jurisdictions to be more cooperative on the laws, including by withholding the federal grants.
“LAPD made the right call decades ago that restricting officers from civil immigration enforcement makes us all safer by encouraging victims and witnesses of crime, irrespective of immigration status, to contact police,” Feuer said. “For the Trump administration to tie unrelated, civil immigration enforcement terms to a community-policing grant that protects kids in some of L.A.’s most underserved neighborhoods jeopardizes public safety and is unconstitutional.”
The city has received more than $1 million annually since 1997 from the Byrne grant, according to Feuer’s office.
Los Angeles applied for and received COPS grants in 2012 and 2016, including a $3.125 million award in 2016 which was used to help expand the “Summer Night Lights” and “Fall Friday Nights” gang reduction programs.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended the new policies as necessary to help fight illegal immigration.
“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 when he announced the new guidelines. “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.”
–City News Service