A federal appeals court sided Friday with the Trump administration’s effort to punish sanctuary cities, ruling that the federal government can reward communities that cooperate with ICE on deportations.
At stake are policing grants, which the Justice Department doles out each year. Under President Trump, cities and counties that agreed to use the money to enhance immigration enforcement or were willing to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were more likely to get grant money.
Los Angeles had sued, claiming it was being coerced into cooperating on deportations.
But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, said the federal government wasn’t coercing anyone, but is within its rights to reward behavior.
“This ruling reverses a lawless decision that enabled sanctuary city policies, putting the safety and security of all Americans in harm’s way,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
The decision is the first victory after a long series of defeats for Mr. Trump’s quest to crack down on sanctuary cities.
Attempts to deny money in other grant programs from communities that refuse to share information with ICE have been rejected by courts in Philadelphia, Chicago and California.
The cops money, though, relies on a different section of law, and the 9th Circuit said it gives the administration leeway to give preferential treatment for important public safety issues.
And the majority ruled that combatting illegal immigration is a public safety concern.
“Los Angeles may believe that addressing illegal immigration is not the most effective way to improve public safety, but the wisdom of DOJ’s policy is not an element of our arbitrary and capricious review,” wrote Judge Sandra Ikuta, a Bush appointee to the court.
She was joined by Judge Jay Bybee, another Bush appointee.
Dissenting was Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, a Clinton appointee, who doubted Congress intended to reward anti-illegal immigration efforts when it approved the cops grants.