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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Monday, July 23, 2018

Legal Challenges Leave Sanctuary Immigration Policies in Limbo

Wall Street Journal
By Alexa Corse
July 21, 2018

The legal challenges to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s crackdown on “sanctuary” immigration practices have left Mr. Sessions’s policy in an uneven state, with both sides claiming victory.

Sanctuary cities, or communities that limit their cooperation to some extent with federal immigration authorities, are part of the broader immigration debate. The Trump administration says sanctuary cities protect criminals who should be deported, while critics call the administration’s policies discriminatory.

“Sanctuary policies are terribly wrong,” Mr. Sessions said last month in Scranton, Pa. “Under President [Donald] Trump, the Department of Justice will not stand idly by while our laws are being nullified and undermined.”

It is difficult to specify the number of sanctuary cities, because there is no legal definition, and what percentage are challenging Mr. Sessions’ policies. The Trump administration has pledged to deny certain federal funding to some cities they see as defying federal law.

The administration claimed victory last month when a federal appeals court narrowed, for now, a nationwide injunction against the administration’s attempt to withhold some grants from sanctuary jurisdictions.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals limited the scope of the injunction to the city of Chicago, the plaintiff in that lawsuit, though more proceedings are anticipated.

The Trump administration applauded the ruling. “The stay of the nationwide injunction granted…by the Seventh Circuit is another major victory for the rule of law,” said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley.

Chicago’s lawyers, however, played down the significance. “This is hardly a win for the DOJ,” said Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Law. “The injunction is still in place in Chicago.”

Several other ongoing lawsuits give hope to administration critics.

Federal judges in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco have dealt legal setbacks to the Trump administration, by and large rejecting its argument that it doesn’t need specific congressional approval to attach new conditions to grants.

After the 7th Circuit stayed the nationwide injunction, the Justice Department moved to distribute nearly $200 million in so-called Byrne law enforcement grants to jurisdictions it deemed compliant with federal immigration enforcement. The department will give the grants “to jurisdictions that share the department’s commitment to keeping criminal aliens off our streets and our law-abiding citizens safe,” said Mr. O’Malley, the Justice Department spokesman.

The state of New York, along with five other states, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday, alleging that the department has withheld their allocated Byrne grants. The attorneys general of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and Washington joined the suit.

In another lawsuit, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has also requested a nationwide injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California similarly seeking to prevent the administration from withholding grants from sanctuary jurisdictions.

The risk of losing funding could matter more to poorer jurisdictions, said Rick Su, a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law, noting that such communities have fewer resources to fight in court.

Since last year, the Justice Department has sent letters to more than two dozen potential sanctuary jurisdictions, saying the department might deny some grant funding unless they provide evidence of their compliance with federal immigration enforcement.

At least two of those cities—Louisville, Ky., and West Palm Beach, Fla.—will now receive grants after reaching an agreement with federal authorities. West Palm Beach, for example, agreed to send a memo telling city employees they were authorized to provide information about immigration status of people with whom they interact in the course of their official duties.

The administration has also initiated court action. The Justice Department sued California earlier this year, saying state lawmakers had overreached their authority with three state immigration laws.

U.S. District Judge John Mendez dismissed the lawsuit regarding two of those laws, which among other things limit when and how private employers and local authorities can cooperate with federal immigration agents.

Some California counties, including San Diego and Orange, have said they support the Trump administration’s lawsuit against the state.

Legal analysts expect these fights to continue, possibly ending up in the Supreme Court.

“California basically won the first round,” said Thad Kousser, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, but “this one will go through multiple rounds.”

For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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