A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday ruled [opinion, PDF] for the city of Philadelphia in a dispute over Attorney General Jeff Sessions withholding federal law enforcement grants in response to the city’s refusal to adhere to his heightened immigration security measures.
In granting Philadelphia’s motion for preliminary injunction, the court stated, “[Session]’s implementation of two of the conditions for receiving the … grant … were issued without appropriate authority under the Administrative Procedure Act [text, PDF], a statute enacted by Congress many years ago which regulates the matters on which federal government agencies, of which the Department of Justice is one, may issue conditions.”
The grants are awarded under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) [statute] program, which supports state and local law enforcement efforts by providing additional funds for personnel, equipment, training, and other criminal justice needs.
The two conditions [press release] allow federal immigration access to detention facilities and require them to provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.
The City filed a six-count Complaint on August 30, 2017, alleging in detail the City’s overarching commitments to welcoming immigrants, holding wrongdoers accountable for their criminal conduct regardless of their immigration status, and promoting the health, safety, and welfare of all residents.
Philadelphia is a 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. There are none. … [T]he Courts, in interpreting the Constitution, and Congress in enacting laws … have interposed restrictions on the Executive’s ability to impose conditions on the transfer of benefits to local governments,” Judge Baylson stated in the 128-page decision.
This preliminary injunction stops Sessions from withholding the JAG grants pending further proceedings.