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Philadelphia latest to file sanctuary city lawsuit against Justice Department

August 30, 2017 by Scott Bomboy


Another city is suing the Trump administration over its policy of linking policing grants to compliance with an executive order about sanctuary cities.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The city joins the state of California, and two other cities, Chicago and San Francisco, that are taking their arguments about the policies to federal court.

And like those three plaintiffs, Philadelphia is seeking relief from the courts to prevent a loss of funding related to the federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (or JAG) program.

Philadelphia is objecting to three conditions raised in the other lawsuits that were announced by Sessions on July 25, 2017.

 “From now on, the [Justice] Department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours’ notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities. This is consistent with long-established cooperative principles among law enforcement agencies,” Sessions said.

“Simply put, the Attorney General’s imposition of these three conditions on the FY 2017 Byrne JAG grant is contrary to law, unconstitutional, and arbitrary and capricious. That action should be enjoined,” the attorneys for Philadelphia argued in their suit.

All four lawsuits stem from Trump sanctuary cities policies that started with an executive order in January that was later enjoined in County of Santa Clara v. Trump. In that federal court in California, on April 25, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick said only Congress, not the President or other Executive Branch officials, can impose new conditions on how federal money is handed out in grants. Orrick then imposed a national injunction against the Trump executive order. 

The city claims the Justice Department's actions violate the Administrative Procedure Act, the Constitution's Spending Clause and a Supreme Court decision that prevents the federal government from commandeering local government resources under the 10th Amendment.


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