The legal battle between states and cities that have approved sanctuary city laws and the federal government’s anti-sanctuary policy is hardly over, but the deck is being stacked against the Justice Department. A federal judge has upheld the Philadelphia sanctuary city law, saying the U.S. government’s efforts to stop it is unconstitutional.
Judge Michael M. Baylson also delivered a spanking to President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying they were inaccurate in suggesting that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans and that further undercut the government’s arguments against the city’s policy.
The ruling joins similar defeats for Mr. Trump in California and Chicago, where his efforts to control the spread of sanctuary cities were also rejected in courtrooms.
“We took on the federal government and won,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said on Twitter. “This ruling prevents the White House from bullying Philadelphia into changing its policies. It’s a ruling that should make clear to Attorney General Sessions that federal grant dollars cannot be used for a political shakedown.”
Under orders from Mr. Trump last year, Mr. Sessions announced a series of conditions he said localities would have to meet if they wanted access to several Justice Department grant programs. The conditions included letting federal immigration officers into local prisons and jails, holding deportation targets for up to 48 hours for pickup by officers.
Judge Baylson rejected each of those conditions, saying Mr. Sessions didn’t have a good justification for adding them and cut too many corners along the way. Other judges in the California and Chicago cases held much the same.
The judge is accusing the government of being sloppy in drawing up the conditions for cooperation. That may be. The question becomes, are there any conditions that would stand up in court that can require states and cities to cooperate or lose federal monies?
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