Federal judge Ramos rules in favor of sanctuary states, White House can’t withhold money

President Donald Trump’s effort to withhold grants to “sanctuary” jurisdictions unless they cooperated in removing criminals was overruled by a federal judge.

In a move praised by so-called sanctuary states and cities like New York, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled against the Trump administration on Friday and an executive order by the president that would have withheld grant money under certain conditions, according to The Associated Press.

(Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Similar to other rulings by federal courts in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania, Ramos ruled in favor of a petition by New York State, New York City and other “sanctuary” locations which argued that the federal government was infringing on the state and local jurisdictions’ sovereign authority.

Trump issued the order shortly after taking office last year and new conditions to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program were then released by the Justice Department, such as requiring local officials to notify federal agents when an illegal immigrant was released from custody.

The new requirements also included allowing agents to question inmates about their immigration status as well as having local governments agree to not set limits on giving citizenship information about people to immigration officials.

Then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions noted at the time that the goal of the new conditions was to “encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals.”

But Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington state, and the state and city of New York pushed back, arguing that the federal government was violating constitutional limits over its authority to control spending decisions and on federal power over states. They also maintained that making local law enforcement act as immigration agents would discourage  immigrants from reporting crimes or cooperating in investigations.

In his ruling Friday, Ramos agreed, writing that the information-sharing requirement “impinges on (the states’ and city’s) sovereign authority and their citizens’ liberty to be regulated under their preferred state and local policies.”

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood praised the decision as “a major win for New Yorkers’ public safety.”

“As we argued, local law enforcement has the right to decide how to meet their local public safety needs – and the Trump administration simply does not have the right to require state and local police to act as federal immigration agents,” Underwood said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s attempt to withhold these vital funds was nothing more than a political attack at the expense of our public safety.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated the win on Twitter, declaring no one “messes with New Yorkers.”

The Democratic mayor blasted Trump for trying to trying “to bully our city into enforcing his Draconian immigration policies.”

Ramos turned down the request by city and states to make a nationwide ruling. No ruling is in place yet across the nation on the issue of whether the federal government can withhold public safety grant funding from “sanctuary” states, cities and counties that limit their cooperation with immigration officials.

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Frieda Powers

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