A Legal Blow to “Sanctuary” Jurisdictions

Today the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in State of New York et al. v. U.S. Department of Justice, upholding the Trump administration’s order withholding Byrne Program Criminal Justice Assistance funds from state and local governments that defy federal immigration law by declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens. The court’s opinion is here.

The back story includes three prior Court of Appeals decisions going against the administration: the 9th Circuit, the 3rd Circuit, and the 7th Circuit. So today’s decision creates a split among the circuits that pretty much guarantees the issue will be settled by the Supreme Court.

Personally, I find the 2nd Circuit’s decision persuasive. It relies in large part on 8 U.S.C. § 1373, which “precludes government entities and officials from prohibiting or restricting the sharing of citizenship or alien‐status information with federal immigration authorities.” That statute seems obviously applicable to me.

The amount of money at issue is actually small. Byrne grants amount to only around $250 million annually–in total, as I understand the Court’s opinion, not just to “sanctuary” jurisdictions. My guess is that if the left-wingers who are suing the administration lose, they will simply forgo Byrne grants rather than abandon their devotion to illegal immigration. So the issue is largely symbolic, but nevertheless important.

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