(USA Features) A federal appeals court on Wednesday handed the Trump administration a victory over so-called “sanctuary cities,” overruling a lower court that said the government could not deny grant funds to cities that refused to assist immigration authorities.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned a lower court ruling that stopped a move by the Trump administration in 2017 to withhold grant money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Program, which hands out some $250 million a year to state and local criminal justice efforts, Fox News reported.
“Today’s decision rightfully recognizes the lawful authority of the Attorney General to ensure that Department of Justice grant recipients are not at the same time thwarting federal law enforcement priorities,” a DOJ spokesman said in a statement.
“The grant conditions here require states and cities that receive DOJ grants to share information about criminals in custody. The federal government uses this information to enforce national immigration laws–policies supported by successive Democrat and Republican administrations,” the statement continued.
“All Americans will benefit from increased public safety as this Administration is able to implement its lawful immigration and public safety policies,” the statement said.
The appeals court ruling differs from rulings from other appeals courts across the country regarding sanctuary policies, so a U.S. Supreme Court review is now likely.
New York City and liberal states including New York, Washington, Massachusetts and Connecticut sued the government over its threat to withhold funds. They were backed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which ordered the administration to release the money and stop putting immigration-related conditions on grants.
However, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it “cannot agree that the federal government must be enjoined from imposing the challenged conditions on the federal grants here at issue.”
“These conditions help the federal government enforce national immigration laws and policies supported by successive Democratic and Republican administrations,” the court ruled. “But more to the authorization point, they ensure that applicants satisfy particular statutory grant requirements imposed by Congress and subject to Attorney General oversight.”
The appeals ruling also disagreed with the lower court’s claim that withholding grant money was a 10th Amendment infringement on power reserved to states, noting that in immigration policy the Supreme Court has found that the federal government maintains “broad” and “preeminent” power.
“Sanctuary policies generally forbid local law enforcement from honoring detainers — requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that they be alerted to of an illegal immigrant’s release from custody so they can be be picked up by ICE and put through deportation proceedings,” Fox News reported.