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Court says Trump allowed to withhold money from sanctuary cities and states

President Donald J. Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House to board Marine One Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, to begin his trip to Michigan and Iowa. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
February 26, 2020

A federal court ruled in favor of the Trump administration on Wednesday to withhold federal grants to states who vowed not to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan’s decision overturned a previous decision by a lower court which has forced the Trump administration to release the federal grants to New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Rhode Island, as well as New York City.

The lower court had decided that 8 U.S.C. § 1373 was unconstitutional. That specific law requires communication between federal, state, and local law enforcement or government agencies and ICE regarding citizenship or immigration information on all individuals in the U.S.

However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law “does not violate the anticommandeering principle of the Tenth Amendment as applied here to a federal funding requirement.”

New York City and the seven states had sued the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017 after the department decided in 2017 that it would be withholding the grant money from states and localities refusing to provide ICE notice regarding illegal immigrants’ impending release from jails, as well as access to those jails.

The court determined that the Department of Homeland Security’s responsibilities of controlling illegal immigration were impeded by the states’ lack of compliance with U.S. immigration law.

The states argued that losing such federal grants would be harmful to the state’s fiscal health, and as such, they felt coerced into compliance. However, the court determined that New York’s withheld grant represented “less than 0.1% of the state’s annual $152.3 billion budget.”

Further, the court chastised the states by telling them “they cannot complain that the consequences for failing to [comply with 8 U.S.C. § 1373] are so severe as to leave them with no choice in the matter” due to their sovereignty and independent budgets that will be virtually unaffected by the withheld funding.