Rules Attorney General within his rights to cut funds to sanctuary city
WASHINGTON – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a California federal district court that had ruled that the Attorney General wrongly denied Los Angeles a certain category of federal funds because it is a sanctuary city. The funds – meant to address crime and enhance public safety – are awarded in a competitive process in which the Attorney General ranks cities under a points system.
Los Angeles refused to certify in this process that it would assist federal immigration law enforcement – for example, by ceasing to shield criminal aliens from being deported – and so lost points with the Attorney General, who denied the city’s application for funding. Ignoring the obvious point that removing criminal aliens from a city (and the country) enhances public safety, the district court had ruled that the Attorney General’s decision was unlawful, and had ordered him not to consider any city’s refusal to cooperate in immigration law enforcement when awarding these funds. The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) had submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
In reversing the district court, the Ninth Circuit noted that Congress has the power to attach conditions to federal funds, and to delegate this authority to the Attorney General. The court also found that removing criminal aliens is related to the enhancement of public safety, which is a purpose these funds are meant to serve.
“We are gratified that the Ninth Circuit showed common sense in this case,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI, “and did not buy the bizarre argument that keeping criminal aliens in a city actually makes people safer, because it supposedly makes illegal aliens trust the police more. It is refreshing that, instead, the Ninth Circuit accepted the obvious connection between public safety and getting criminals – including career criminals – out of our nation’s cities, and so approved this effort by the Attorney General to protect Americans from crime.”
The case is Los Angeles v. Barr, No. 18-55599 (Ninth Circuit).
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