For the first time, the Justice Department is tying applications for federal grant money to a city’s compliance with immigration laws. While the courts have thus far blocked the Trump administration from removing already-existing grants from sanctuary cities, there is nothing – so far as we can know or tell – preventing the administration from applying these rules going forward. After all, it’s analogous to Obama’s Education Department tying grant money to the school lunch rules. School districts that participated got the money, those that didn’t had to do without. It’s the same concept here, except instead of carrots and whole-grain bread, we’re talking about nothing less than local and national security.
The DOJ announced this week that applicants who want money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Programs will have to comply with a new set of conditions.
“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law. This can have tragic consequences, like the 10 deaths we saw in San Antonio this weekend.”
If cities are to successfully apply for the grant money, they will have to certify that their officials will not be prohibited from cooperation with federal immigration authorities, give ICE officers access to the local jails, and inform immigration officials before releasing any illegal immigrant from custody if said prisoner has had a federal detainer placed against him.
While it’s true that our Constitution makes it impossible for the Trump administration to FORCE local law enforcement officials to comply with detainer requests, what the DOJ is doing here is absolutely within the rights of the federal government. If you’re asking for FEDERAL money, you must abide by FEDERAL regulations. It’s not that difficult a thing to figure out. But mere logic will not be enough to convince the likes of California Democrats, who believe that they can fight policies like this one in court.
Will they be successful? Your guess is as good as ours. Our courts have shown a disturbing willingness to extend constitutional rights to non-citizens since President Trump took office, so there’s no reason why they wouldn’t continue to do so. If six months of history is any indication, we’ll have to imagine that this is going to ultimately wind up in front of the Supreme Court, where we’ll find out once and for all if American cities have a right to both flaunt federal law and cozy up to the federal piggy bank at the same time.