Appeals court sides with Trump in sanctuary cities threat

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during a press conference Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Feb. 26 (UPI) — A federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Trump administration Wednesday, allowing the Justice Department to withhold federal funds from local and state jurisdictions that have so-called sanctuary policies.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling in November 2018, which found the Trump administration’s threat to withhold public safety funds to be unconstitutional.

The appeals court, though, said Congress made the U.S. attorney general responsible for setting the conditions for dispersal of the federal grant money, so former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had the authority to withhold the money.

“Repeatedly and throughout its pronouncement of Byrne Program statutory requirements, Congress makes clear that a grant applicant demonstrates qualification by satisfying statutory requirements in such form and according to such rules as the attorney general establishes,” the opinion, written by Judge Reena Raggi, said.

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Seven states sued the Justice Department in 2017 after it required in June that states comply with rules enforcing federal immigration law. The action put the country’s local and state governments on notice that they would lose federal funding if they refused to cooperate.

The states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington joined together for the suit.

President Donald Trump pushed the withholding of federal funds, saying some of the people protected by sanctuary policies include “bad actors,” “predators,” “rapists” and “killers” in March 2018.

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