Appeals court rules Trump administration can withhold money from sanctuary cities

It’s probably not the end of the road for this issue but this decision today by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the Trump administration can withhold federal funds from states and cities that refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.


A federal appeals court on Wednesday handed a major win to the Trump administration in its fight against “sanctuary” jurisdictions, ruling that it can deny grant money to states that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned a lower court ruling that stopped the administration’s 2017 move to withhold grant money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, which dispenses over $250 million a year to state and local criminal justice efforts.

Three other appeals courts have ruled against the administration’s ability to withhold the funding but the 2nd Circuit said it could not agree with their reasoning:

“While mindful of the respect owed to our sister circuits, we cannot agree that the federal government must be enjoined from imposing the challenged conditions on the federal grants here at issue,” the 2nd Circuit three-judge panel said in a decision written by Judge Reena Raggi.

“These conditions help the federal government enforce national immigration laws and policies supported by successive Democratic and Republican administrations. But more to the authorization point, they ensure that applicants satisfy particular statutory grant requirements imposed by Congress and subject to Attorney General oversight,” the appeals court said.

The Justice Department praised the decision, issuing a statement calling it a “major victory for Americans” and saying it recognizes that the attorney general has authority to ensure that grant recipients are not thwarting federal law enforcement priorities.


The split among appeals courts sets this up for a hearing at the Supreme Court.

The underlying issue here is that states and municipalities have increasingly refused to coordinate their activities with ICE agents, in some cases legally preventing police from notifying ICE that they have arrested someone someone ICE is seeking to deport.

The sanctuary laws also prevent ICE from holding individuals at local jails until ICE agents are available to pick them up. In several cases, individuals who were released even after ICE issued a detainer have gone on to commit additional crimes, even murder. Just last month Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence blamed New York’s sanctuary policy for the rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman named Maria Fuertes.

Last year, two El Salvador teens who were members of MS-13 were arrested on attempted murder charges and then released by police in Maryland. ICE filed a detainer for both teens but police released them without notifying ICE. The two then went on to murder a teenage girl named Ariana Funes-Diaz with a baseball bat and a machete after luring her into a wooded area.

And last September a California Sheriff blasted the state’s sanctuary policies after one of his deputies was shot when he went to arrest Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera after he failed to show up at court for his domestic violence case. “We had him in our custody in January of this year. And because of the folks in Sacramento limiting our ability to cooperate with ICE, we could not turn him over,” Merced Sheriff Van Warnke said. He added, “Bottom line is our immigration policies need to be revamped because we’re gonna continue to have more of this situation happen.”


Progressive politicians shouldn’t be allowed to prevent national law enforcement from doing their jobs. Of course that doesn’t mean most illegal immigrants (or immigrants in general) are violent. But it makes no sense, when you have identified the individuals who are violent, to prevent law enforcement from removing them before they can do more violence.

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024