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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Strange Disconnect on Sanctuary Cities

Yesterday, a federal district judge in California issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of President Trump's executive order to cut off funding for sanctuary cities.  If you read the mainstream media or listen to the participants, this was either a major blow to the President, a victory for the sanctuary cities or the act of an overreaching liberal judge who wants to impose his own views on the country.  I'm not sure, however, that it is any of these.

In the court hearing, the plaintiff cities/counties argued that the Executive Order was too broad and cut off all federal funding for them.  The US Attorney responded that the EO was narrow and only affected certain funds that came under grants from the Department of Justice to the police departments of the sanctuary cities.  Those grants have as part of their terms a requirement that the cities or counties cooperate with the federal government in the administration of the law.  The wording is different on each grant, but in general, that is what they say.

The key point, however, is that at the end of his order issuing an injunction with national scope, the federal judge said this:  "This injunction does not impact the Government's ability to use lawful means to enforce existing conditions of federal grants or 8 U.S.C. section 1373".  If the grants all have conditions that require the cities to cooperate in enforcement of federal immigration law and if the cities do not cooperate, then the feds can cut off the payments under those grants.  Such a cut off is a "lawful means" to enforce the conditions.  The cities breached the terms of the grant and therefore have no rights under them.  Further, the section of the US Code cited by the court says that no state, local or federal official or body can order government employees not to cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration statutes. 

There may be a temporary restraining order, but it seems to be directed only against the broad interpretation of the Executive Order which the federal government specifically said was an incorrect interpretation.

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