Last year, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was cutting off grant money for certain ‘sanctuary cities’. The stated goal of the DOJ’s policy change was to force these jurisdictions to give up their sanctuary status in exchange for keeping their DOJ grant money. Several major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, decided to fight back against the Trump Administration. Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against the DOJ, alleging that its policy was unconstitutional.
On April 12th, 2018, a federal court ruled in favor of the City of Los Angeles. U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real granted Los Angeles a permanent injunction against DOJ. Under the ruling, the DOJ is prohibited from blocking general CHP grant funding to local law enforcement departments simply because these departments are not cooperating with Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). As the city’s lead attorney told the Los Angeles Times, “This is yet another dagger in the heart of the administration’s efforts to use federal funds as a weapon to make local jurisdictions complicit in its civil immigration enforcement policies.”
The Trump Administration Cannot Coerce Local Governments
Law Enforcement Grant Money is Available
Similar to many other major American cities, Los Angeles can apply to receive federal grant money from the Department of Justice through the COPS Hiring Program (CHP). The United States Congress put the DOJ in charge of administering this program. Essentially, the purpose of the money is to give cities resources to hire more police officers and promote ‘community’ policing and crime reduction.
The federal government is allowed to put certain restrictions on this grant money. To receive the grant money, the City of Los Angeles must actually spend it in the appropriate way. For example, Los Angeles would be prohibited from using this law enforcement grant money to develop a park or repave city streets.
The Trump Administration Attempted to Impose Unlawful Restrictions
In 2017, the Trump Administration attempted to put additional strings on this money, strings that were never approved by Congress. Specifically, on September 12th, 2017, President Trump’s Department of Justice sent all CHP grant applicants (U.S. cities) an email with a Certification of Illegal Immigration Cooperation form.
This brand new application required cities to give up sanctuary policies. If cities refused to sign it, they would lose access to a considerable amount of grant money. Judge Manuel Real has now ruled that this new condition amounts to unconstitutional coercion. The Department of Justice does not have the authority to force cities to cooperate with ICE in order to get CHP grant money. A nationwide injunction has been put into place, preventing the DOJ from applying this condition.
We Support Immigrants in Los Angeles
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our legal team has deep experience advocating for the rights and interests of immigrants in Southern California. We handle all aspects of immigration law. No matter your specific situation, we are ready to carefully review your case and help you find the best available course of action. To learn more about what we can do for you, please call us today at (213) 262-2000.