Surprise! Trump's order cutting funding to sanctuary cities isn't dead yet

Back in November, we saw yet another judge wading into challenges to one of Donald Trump’s executive orders, this one regarding sanctuary cities. The Attorney General has been in a battle with the city of Chicago over their opposition to an order which would force cities to comply with basic rules of cooperation with federal immigration officials. Their first trip to court unfortunately wound up in the Ninth Circuit after Judge William Orrick III (a well known and generous Democratic donor) sided with the plaintiffs. The appeals process is moving forward, though, and now the Attorneys General of eleven states are weighing in on behalf of the administration. (Bloomberg)

A coalition of 11 mostly Republican-led states urged a federal appeals court to enforce U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order punishing so-called sanctuary cities, which largely forbid local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The group filed a joint brief last week urging the appeals court in San Francisco to reinstate a January directive in which Trump threatened broad cuts in funding for jurisdictions that don’t assist efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. The states, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and his Louisiana counterpart, Jeff Landry, argued sanctuary cities undermine Trump’s immigration-enforcement authority and make the country less safe.

Trump has warned that violent Latino gangs flourish in sanctuary cities, while many Democratic-led states and cities contend that cooperation with federal officials drains local resources and risks infringing citizens’ rights. The other states backing Trump in the San Francisco fight are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

Trump is getting some additional support on this front from the NSA. No… not that NSA. I’m talking about the National Sheriff’s Association. They are onboard with cutting grant money to Chicago unless they decide to comply with federal law and support immigration officials. (Daily Caller)

The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) came out in favor of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Thursday in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s push to withhold funds from Chicago and other sanctuary cities.

The NSA — which represents more than 3,000 sheriffs nationwide — will file an amicus brief in support of the DOJ in ongoing litigation between Sessions and the city of Chicago, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned. Chicago sued the DOJ in August over his order to withhold certain funding grants from sanctuary cities, and the city won the case in September, but the DOJ has appealed the decision. Notably, the judge’s September ruling included a nationwide injunction on Sessions’s order, which effectively blocked funds from reaching non-sanctuary jurisdictions as well.

The NSA isn’t really focusing on the general question of sanctuary cities overall. Their Executive Director, Jonathan Thompson, is quoted as saying, “It’s that the political actions of one jurisdiction should never affect thousands of other counties. That’s what’s happening here and we find that objectionable.” This is a point which has been raised before, but there doesn’t seem to be much to be done about it. Once the order is issued, the administration has to fight it through to the top if need be. Of course, given the track record of resistance to Trump’s travel ban, the odds of this order standing up aren’t looking too bad.

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about direct funding which has been appropriated for specific cities by Congress. The money in question is set aside for the executive branch to distribute in the form of Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants. These JAG grants are not automatically given to any jurisdiction. (yes, pedants, I realize “JAG Grants” is redundant, but “JAGs” just sounds awful.) There’s an application process to go through and not every request is granted. The idea that the federal government can’t require certain benchmarks to qualify for the funds sounds like yet another thing which the Supremes will shoot down when they get their hands on it.

But in the meantime, the #RESIST movement marches on, attempting to use the courts to gum up the works at every turn. This isn’t going to last forever, though. Much like the travel ban, if SCOTUS weighs in and clarifies the White House’s ability to issue certain orders, subsequent objections will fall flat immediately.