Court Blocks Trump's Plan To Defund Sanctuary Cities

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A federal judge ruled against the Trump administration withholding federal grants to the city of Philadelphia for its so-called "sanctuary city" policies. The U.S. Department of Justice has warned that it will deny law enforcement grants to jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

On Nov. 15, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson placed an injunction against the Trump administration's attempt to withhold a $1.5 million grant from the city of Philadelphia. In a 128-page memorandum, Baylson ruled that Philadelphia officials were sufficiently cooperating with the Trump administration's immigration enforcement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“In this case, given Philadelphia’s unique approach to meshing the legitimate needs of the federal government to remove criminal aliens with the city’s promotion of health and safety, there is no conflict of any significance," Baylson wrote.

On July 21, Attorney General Jeff Sessions blasted Philadelphia officials during a speech, asserting that they were shielding undocumented criminals from deportation.

"Some jurisdictions in this country refuse to cooperate with the federal government when it comes to immigration authorities to turn over illegal aliens who commit crimes..." Sessions said, according to Politico. "...It saddens me to say one of these jurisdictions is Philadelphia."

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The attorney general added, "I urge the City of Philadelphia and every sanctuary city to reconsider the harm they are doing to their residents."

In July, the DOJ announced that Philadelphia law enforcement must notify ICE whenever they detained an undocumented immigrant and allow immigration agents access to interview inmates to receive a $1.5 million grant for police overtime and training.

On Aug. 30, Philadelphia announced a lawsuit against Sessions. Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney said the attorney general's policy violated the city's sovereignty, Curbed reports.

"As far as we can tell, these unprecedented grant conditions are purely political..." Kenney said. "...We will not let this administration interfere with our longstanding efforts to bring members of Philadelphia’s immigrant community from the shadows.”

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Baylson ruled that Philadelphia was not a sanctuary city because local law enforcement would report undocumented immigrants who committed serious crimes to ICE.

"Philadelphia is not a 'sanctuary city' -- if that term means that there are any policies that would prevent or inhibit the investigation, arrest, prosecution and sentencing of aliens," Baylson wrote, according to Philadelphia Magazine. "There are none."

Shortly after the Nov. 15 ruling was announced, the DOJ submitted letters to 29 cities warning them that they would lose federal grants if they did not fully comply with ICE agents, CNN reports.

Sources: CNN, CurbedPhiladelphia Magazine, The Philadelphia InquirerPolitico / Featured Image: Dominic Lacivita/Flickr / Embedded Images: Jetta Disco/U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Flickr, Democratic National Convention/YouTube

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