The Trump administration’s plan to withhold criminal justice grants from sanctuary jurisdictions has now been permanently blocked. Federal judges in Chicago, Philadelphia and now San Francisco have ruled that the Justice Department cannot place immigration-related conditions on the grants. Moreover, they struck down as unconstitutional a longstanding immigration law, Section 1373 of Title * of the U.S. Code, that appeared to support the administration’s position.
“In agreement with every court that has looked at these issues, I find that: the challenged conditions violate the separation of powers; Section 1373 is unconstitutional; the Attorney General exceeds the Spending Power in violation of the United States Constitution by imposing the challenged conditions,” wrote the judge in San Francisco.
He also issued a nationwide injunction to prevent the Justice Department from attempting to place immigration conditions on criminal justice grants. This was appropriate, he said, because the grant conditions are being applied to jurisdictions across the U.S. However, he placed a stay on the nationwide scope of the injunction so that the administration could appeal it.
The judge also ordered the Justice Department to release some $28.3 million in grants to California and the city of San Francisco because delaying these funds jeopardizes public safety. The funds will be used for drug enforcement, to fight gangs and violent crime, and to fund programs for at-risk youth, among other priorities.
As we’ve discussed before, being called a “sanctuary jurisdiction” does not mean that unauthorized immigrants are being given sanctuary from federal enforcement. Sanctuary jurisdictions are those that refuse in some way to participate in the administration’s immigration enforcement priorities. There is no set formula; each city, county or state that has adopted sanctuary status chooses which immigration enforcement actions it finds counterproductive or unreasonable.
Many, however, refuse to hold people beyond their release date in order to wait for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Others limit their police’s participation in any immigration activities, even forbidding their police to ask people about their immigration status. These limitations are typically meant to promote more trust between immigrant communities and police so that immigrants will feel safe participating in criminal investigations and prosecutions.
Indeed, the federal judge in San Francisco cited a number of studies in his ruling that show a decline in crime reporting among Hispanics.
“The evident consequence of a widespread fear of deportation within Latino communities is an underreporting of violent crimes such as domestic violence and gang-related violence,” he wrote.
If you have an immigration problem, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping people live and work in the United States.