The Trump Administration won a major victory with decision by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of its sanctions against “sanctuary cities” which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The decision in New York v. Department of Justice reversed a lower court ruling blocking the policy of withholding certain grants. Despite my disagreement with friends like Judge Napolitano, I previously stated that I thought the Administration would prevail ultimately on this challenge though there are good-faith arguments against government. The decision could have two immediate impacts. First, it will add pressure to cities in their opposition to the immigration policies. Second, it could create the type of split in the circuits that make a Supreme Court review more likely as these challenges move beyond the trial level.
The case originated with the decision in July 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions limiting the availability to Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants on the basis for cooperation with the federal government. The move was challenged by the city of New York and various states, including a New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Rhode Island. It is also a rejection of the analysis of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Edgardo Ramos.
Judge Reena Raggi, writing on behalf of the unanimous 3-judge panel, such conditions on federal grants are legitimate tools to enforce national immigration laws and rejected the claim that they “intrude on powers reserved to the States.”
The panel recognized the inherent authority of the Executive Branch in this case and stated that case being advanced by the Administration in a host of such cases:
As the Supreme Court has repeatedly observed, in the realm of immigration policy, it is the federal government that maintains “broad,” Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 394 (2012), and “preeminent,” power, Toll v. Moreno, 458 U.S. 1, 10 (1982), which is codified in an “extensive and complex” statutory scheme, Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. at 395. Thus at the same time that the Supreme Court has acknowledged States’ “understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration,” it has made clear that a “State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” Id. at 416. As Chief Justice John Marshall wrote over 200 years ago, “the states have no power, by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden, or in any manner control, the operations of the constitutional laws enacted by congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the general government.” McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316, 436 (1819). This fundamental principle, a bedrock of our federalism, is no less applicable today. Indeed, it pertains with particular force when, as here, Congress acts pursuant to its power under the Spending Clause. See U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8.
Here is the opinion: New York v. Justice Department