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Appeals Court upholds Trump withholding Justice Department grants from sanctuary cities

Appeals Court upholds Trump withholding Justice Department grants from sanctuary cities

2nd Circuit: “the plain language of the relevant statutes authorizes the Attorney General to impose the challenged conditions”

Another day, another appeals court reversing a district court injunction which intefered with the legitimate constitutional and statutory powers of the president. We’ve covered this problem of such district court injunctions many times before.

The case dates back to 2018, via Courthouse News:

Rejecting the government’s attempts to tie public-safety grants to immigration policy, a federal judge handed a victory Friday to New York City and six states with sanctuary jurisdictions.

“This case is fundamentally about the separation of powers among the branches of our government and the interplay of dual sovereign authorities in our federalist system,” U.S. District Judge Edgaro Ramos wrote in the order, granting a permanent injunction against three conditions that had been put on the funding.

The Justice Department had announced the restrictions in July 2017 under then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying any cities and states that refuse to help federal agents detain undocumented immigrants at local jails would lose out on $385 million in justice assistance grants. JAG grants, as they are known, are named for slain New York City police officer Eddie Byrne.

Together with New York City, which has its own sanctuary policy, the Empire State, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Washington and Massachusetts stood to lose a total of $25 million under the new federal scheme. The coalition cast the policy as unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit, and New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood applauded Ramos on Friday for striking it down.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals just reversed (h/t Adam Klasfeld). Here’s the summary from the Opinion (emphasis added):

The principal legal question presented in this appeal is whetherthe federal government may deny grants of money to State and local governments that would be eligible for such awards but for their refusal to comply with three immigration‐related conditions imposed by the Attorney General of the United States. Those conditions require grant applicants to certify that they will (1) comply with federal law prohibiting any restrictions on the communication of citizenship and alien status information with federal  mmigration authorities, see 8 U.S.C. § 1373; (2) provide federal authorities, upon request, with the release dates of incarcerated illegal aliens; and (3) afford federal immigration officers access to incarcerated illegal aliens….

At its core, this appeal presents questions of statutory construction. In proceedings below, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Edgardo Ramos, Judge) determined that the Attorney General was not statutorily authorized to impose the challenged conditions and, therefore, enjoined their application. See New York v. Dep’t of Justice, 343 F. Supp. 3d 213 (S.D.N.Y. 2018). The thoughtful opinion of the district court requires us to examine the authorization question in detail. For reasons explained in this opinion, we conclude that the plain language of the relevant statutes authorizes the Attorney General to impose the challenged conditions.

In concluding otherwise, the district court relied on, among other things, an opinion of the Seventh Circuit in City of Chicago v. Sessions, 888 F.3d 272 (7th Cir. 2018). While mindful of the respect owed to our sister circuits, we cannot agree that the federal government must be enjoined from imposing the challenged conditions on the federal grants here at issue. These conditions help the federal government enforce national immigration laws and policies supported by successive Democratic and Republican administrations. But more to the authorization point, they ensure that applicants satisfy particular statutory grant requirements imposed by Congress and subject to Attorney General oversight.

Given what appears to be a conflict among the Circuits, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will take the case (where Trump likely will win again). But in the meantime, the crackdown can continue.


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About time.

buckeyeminuteman | February 26, 2020 at 11:56 am

MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! One less illegal at a time.

The true victory will be when district court judges can no longer issue nationwide injunctions.

TITLE 8 people. That’s the LAW

    The constitution is also the law, and trumps Title 8 when they contradict each other. I haven’t had time to read the opinion yet, but based purely on the brief summary here I don’t see how this gets past the requirement that only Congress can impose such conditions, and that it must do so unambiguously.

    (It clearly does comply with the requirement that such conditions may not be so onerous as to leave the states no choice but to do as Congress wants; these cuts are much smaller than ones that the Supreme Court has said were merely persuasive, since the states could afford to refuse the funding if they liked. Note however that much larger cuts would be unconstitutional even if Congress explicitly made them itself.)

    I will have more to say when I’ve had time to read the opinion, but that may take a while because I’m very busy the next few days.

      Jack Klompus in reply to Milhouse. | February 26, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      We’ll all be on the edge of our seats waiting.

      Joe-dallas in reply to Milhouse. | February 26, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      “It clearly does comply with the requirement that such conditions may not be so onerous as to leave the states no choice but to do as Congress wants; these cuts are much smaller than ones that the Supreme Court has said were merely persuasive, since the states could afford to refuse the funding if they liked. Note however that much larger cuts would be unconstitutional even if Congress explicitly made them itself.)”

      The difference is the grants are for a narrow purpose which include the narrow requirement.

      counsel in reply to Milhouse. | February 27, 2020 at 7:49 am

      The United States Code implements the precepts in the United States Constitution. It is difficult to prevail on a facial challenge to provisions in the United States Code based on a textual reading of the Constitution. Facial challenges are most often entertained in Fourth Amendment cases.

    OleDirtyBarrister in reply to 2smartforlibs. | February 26, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    A typical attempt by Milhouse to pretend that he is the smartest guy in the room and a great legal commentator.

    I am sure everyone here will be waiting with great anticipation while the biggest poseur on the the internet reads the opinion so he can return and provide his unique, expert insight.




If states can’t use their own resources to enforce federal immigration law, as decided during previous administrations, it stands to reason that same federal monopoly of authority on immigration permits the feds to withhold funds from states or their entities that attempt to interfere, even passively, with federal immigration enforcement.

    Milhouse in reply to McGehee. | February 26, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    The constitution says otherwise. It is unconstitutional for Congress to use its funding power so as to compel states to forgo their constitutional rights. It is constitutional for Congress to merely persuade the states, by making cuts small enough that the states are free to accept them if they like and keep standing on their rights. But only Congress itself may do so, not the Attorney General. And Congress must do so unambiguously. I will have to read the opinion to see how a mere authorization to the AG to act at his discretion can be deemed an unambiguous decision by Congress to cut funding.

      Doc Savage in reply to Milhouse. | February 26, 2020 at 4:59 pm

      You mean like withholding federal highway funds from States that did not raise the drinking age to 21? Like South Dakota and Wyoming in the 1980’s??

        Milhouse in reply to Doc Savage. | February 26, 2020 at 7:12 pm

        Precisely like that. That was only constitutional because (a) Congress itself made the condition; (b) it did so unambiguously; (c) and most important the cut was small enough that it was merely persuading the states rather than compelling them. The supreme court was very clear that a cut large enough to compel a state’s compliance would be flat-out unconstitutional, even if Congress explicitly legislated it.

      the 2nd circuit’s well-explained opinion is compelling and clear. States need not assist feds in carrying out laws which are unconstitutional, and can invoke their anti-commandeering authority to withhold their assistance in enforcement of unconstitutional federal acts. HOWEVER, it is crystal-clear that the enforcement of existing lawful immigration laws which is constitutionally vested in the feds, can be done best if the States/Cities cooperate. And the States/Cities chose to cooperate, in return for which they rec’d their safety-related fed grants. In short, the States/Cities can’t have their cake and eat it too. In any event, even if they don’t cooperate and willingly or unwillingly forfeit fed grants, they are still required to uphold fed immigration laws, meaning they cannot legally aid and abet illegals. Throw a few of these so-called local leaders in jail for violating federal law and things would get back to normal. BTW, I’m a strong proponent of the principle of dual federal-state authority and of Art VI which requires that each side in this political equation operates only within their constitutional limits. Just my humble opinion.

I guess Milhouse was wrong on the law again.

If this stands and Trump gets another 4 years hopefully this will be a basic condition for any federal grant award, and not just those from DOJ.

Looking at the Trump picture I started laughing. Either knowingly or unknowingly, Trump is giving the British equivalent
of the middle finger. Well done sir.

Now withhold federal money from states that grant drivers licenses to illegals.

OleDirtyBarrister | February 26, 2020 at 2:57 pm

The feds should take it a step further an withhold law enforcement cooperation from state and local agencies that choose sanctuary policies over cooperating with the feds.

You need access to the FBI’s database? Gee, that’s too bad.

You need assistance from the BATFE with regard to an explosive device? Sorry, we’re too busy to solve your crimes for you.

You have an inmate that has escaped and evading you efforts to catch him? We’re sorry, the USMS is busy chasing criminal illegal alien fugitives and you’ll have to handle it yourself.

I liked the opinion. I thought it well very written and reasoned. My favored word was “cabined”. It was exactly what the Wissman/Weiss Obstruction of Justice misinterpretation ignored.

3-0 Judge Winters – Reagan appointee, Judge Cabranes – clinton appointee, Judge Raggi – bush 43 appointee.

Note Judge Cabranes was the judge who wrote blistering dissent from denial of en banc hearing in the Ricci v DeStefano case.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | February 26, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Wonder if President Trump will tweet more about this win?

Oh and hoping majorly addresses this!

Mini Mike did say he “bought” 21 House seats.

Confirmed in today’s House GOP leaders’ press conference. Go to about 20 minutes into it.

As a resident of WA State, which has a de facto sanctuary policy, I am 100% in favor of Trump’s move, and hope there are other ways he can go after “sanctuary” jurisdictions in such a way that does not degrade public safety.

There is another angle here. Not “another side,” but another angle. One of the big reasons for the use of so many illegal immigrants in agriculture is the burdensome regulations and fees within the H2B visa program.

Where we live, there are lots of cherry orchards; WA and OR together supply a big share of the cherries grown in this country. The H2B regulations require unrealistic time frames that take no account of weather variances that affect the timing of the harvests. Together with the high fees for the visas, the result in an incentive to hire illegal immigrants.

Trust me, the orchardists don’t like it. Same goes for other fruit crops grown elsewhere in the state, most notably apples. But they are in a tough spot, so they hire illegals. Oh, and “anti-discrimination” regs actually prevent orchardists from investigating documentation, so there’s a whole lot of winking and nodding with respect to phony Social Security numbers.

All of this is a circus, and unfair to all. Among those who are treated badly are the legal immigrants here on green cards. That would include my Mexican landscaper, here for 4 years on a green card. He has started his own business, and has more work than he can handle, and plans to get his citizenship when he hits the 5-year mark and can apply.

The rules for legal citizenship are appropriate, and they include demonstrating written and oral English proficiency. This is a tough requirement for adult foreigners for whom English is a second language. I’ve urged him to learn English by reading Louis L’Amour stories, and just before writing this comment I ordered 7 of those books for him on Amazon.

It’s terribly unfair for people like him, who work hard and play by the rules, to see others protected from fulfilling the requirements. He’s something of a refugee from the narcotraffickers of Mexico, and is 1,000% against an open border, having directly seen what is happening there.

Conservatives need to get behind an overhaul of the rules. This “sanctuary” crap is bullshit on steroids, but so are the regulations that wind up tacitly encouraging the use of illegal immigrant labor rather than providing a workable and fair H2B visa program for migrant labor.

    RandomCrank in reply to RandomCrank. | February 27, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    ^ Beyond noting that my clumsy fingers accidentally downvoted my own post, some numbers. In 2018, WA State produced 71% of the cherries grown in the U.S.; Oregon produced 16%; California produced the other 13%.

    RandomCrank in reply to RandomCrank. | February 27, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    A little more about immigration, including why I bought Louis L’Amour books for my landscaper, who is hard working, honest, talented (more than a shovel lifter), and a really nice guy.

    We like rodeos, and a few years back we were out in the yonder at one. Afterwards, in a town about 60 miles away, we bumped into “The Bronco From Sri Lanko,” which is what other cowboys had called him. Tall, good looking guy, black as anthracite coal. You don’t see too many black people in Eastern Oregon, and no one THAT black.

    We got talking, and he told us that his father had immigrated from Sri Lanka when he was six years old. He had learned English by accumulating a shelf full of Louis L’Amour books — in Sri Lanka. I’d read some of those stories, and it clicked: Not only are they entertaining classic American literature, but the English is plain. Not stupid, but straightforward. Perfect for learning English.

    So that’s why I ordered some for my landscaper, whose wife told me is intimidated by the language requirement. He speaks great English, but there are gaps and he worries about it. I told both of them that my mother was the daughter of Austrian immigrants, and arrived in first grade in 1930 speaking only German. So I understood the challenge, having heard about it many times as a kid.

    When he was growing up, the Bronco From Sri Lanko’s father, who lived with his family in Portland, Oregon, would drive the kids out to Eastern Oregon. He’d pull up to a ranch, find the owner, and explain that he was an immigrant and was trying to make sure his children knew the value of work, and was there anything that needed to be done?

    Mind you, black as the coal in a part of the country that’s as white as it gets. The Bronco From Sri Lanko told me it went really well. He loved going to the ranches, and liked the work. As he was growing up, the guy made a list of 10 things to do to become a real American. By the time he was in his 20s, he’d done 9 of them.

    But he hadn’t ridden in a rodeo. In fact, he’d never even been on a horse. So he arranged with his employer to get leaves of absence for three summers in a row. Went to Texas for rodeo school. They laughed the first year, but by the third year he was beating the other cowboys, and decided it was time to go on the circuit.

    He won some buckles, and like a lot of rodeo cowboys he got injured and retired. (If you go to a rodeo, you won’t see too many roughstock — the bucking animals — riders much older than 30 or 35. Too hard on the body.) While he was competing, the other cowboys named him “The Bronco From Sri Lanko,” and when he’d win a buckle they’d take side bets on whether or not he’d fall off his horse during the victory lap. LOL

    Shaggy dog story there, but we really liked the Bronco From Sri Lanko, who by the way rolled his eyes when the whole black identity stuff came up. He wasn’t having any of the victimology crap, that’s for sure.

When are they going to start impeaching some of these power mad judges?

The crackdown can continue in the 2nd circuit. In 3 other circuits, it cannot continue. Hope SCOTUS cleans this up soon, with the right decision!

The 2nd Circuit judges were Ralph K. Winter (Reagan), Jose Cabranes (Clinton) and Reena Raggi (GWB). Please put the judges name in the first paragraph using this nomenclature to identify the president who appointed them. Also, was the vote unanimous? Do you have a good link that would give me these facts?