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President Trump, the rule of law, the Constitution of the United States, and the American people won again. The Second Circuit smacked down New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, and Rhode Island, along with a leftist judge. The case was New York et al. v. United States Dep’t of Justice et al.
The White House Press Secretary was right on top of this, quickly publishing a brief thank-you notice, the shorter version of which is “Nice court, good judges!”
IMMIGRATION | Issued on: February 26, 2020
Sanctuary jurisdictions deliberately imperil the safety of the American people by releasing criminal aliens onto city streets – instead of handing them over to Federal authorities. Since taking office, President Trump has made clear that his Administration would not allow these lawless jurisdictions to heartlessly inflict pain and suffering onto our communities. Today’s unanimous decision by the Second Circuit upholds the Department of Justice’s lawful authority to require jurisdictions that receive Federal grant money under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to obey the law and not impede the removal of criminal aliens. We are pleased by the Court’s decision and remain committed to ensuring that no jurisdiction has license to nullify Federal law or deprive American Citizens of their fundamental rights.
The district court tried to get the Second Circuit to buy the Seventh Circuit’s support for sanctuary cities in a possibly similar case, but the majority was having none of it. This sets up a “split” between two circuits so the Supremes can listen to the arguments and make their own pronunciation on the matter.
Here is the summary and the passage where a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit declined to adopt the Seventh Circuit’s position [emphasis added]:
On appeal from a judgment entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Edgardo Ramos, Judge), which (1) mandates that defendants release withheld 2017 Byrne Program Criminal Justice Assistance funds to plaintiffs, and (2) enjoins defendants from imposing certain immigration‐related conditions on such grants, defendants argue that the district court erred in holding that the challenged conditions violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the United States Constitution. REVERSED AND REMANDED. __________
The principal legal question presented in this appeal is whether the federal government may deny grants of money to State and local governments that would be eligible for such awards but for their refusal to comply with three immigration‐related conditions imposed by the Attorney General of the United States. Those conditions require grant applicants to certify that they will (1) comply with federal law prohibiting any restrictions on the communication of citizenship and alien status information with federal immigration authorities, see 8 U.S.C. § 1373; (2) provide federal authorities, upon request, with the release dates of incarcerated illegal aliens; and (3) afford federal immigration officers access to incarcerated illegal aliens.
The case implicates several of the most divisive issues confronting our country and, consequently, filling daily news headlines: national immigration policy, the enforcement of immigration laws, the status of illegal aliens in this country, and the ability of States and localities to adopt policies on such matters contrary to, or at odds with, those of the federal government.
Intertwined with these issues is a foundational legal question: how, if at all, should federal, State, and local governments coordinate in carrying out the nation’s immigration policy? There is also a corollary question: to what extent may States and localities seeking federal grant money to facilitate the enforcement of their own laws adopt policies to extricate themselves from, hinder, or even frustrate the enforcement of federal immigration laws?
At its core, this appeal presents questions of statutory construction. In proceedings below, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Edgardo Ramos, Judge) determined that the Attorney General was not statutorily authorized to impose the challenged conditions and, therefore, enjoined their application. See New York v. Dep’t of Justice, 343 F. Supp. 3d 213 (S.D.N.Y. 2018). The thoughtful opinion of the district court requires us to examine the authorization question in detail. For reasons explained in this opinion, we conclude that the plain language of the relevant statutes authorizes the Attorney General to impose the challenged conditions.
In concluding otherwise, the district court relied on, among other things, an opinion of the Seventh Circuit in City of Chicago v. Sessions, 888 F.3d 272 (7th Cir. 2018). 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. 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.
Nor can we agree with the district court that the challenged conditions impermissibly intrude on powers reserved to the States. See U.S. CONST. Amend. X. 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.
The Seventh Circuit three-judge panel was firmly in the grip of Trump Derangement Syndrome, and cast the issue as the president usurping congressional power, in the face of Congress not acting [to support enforcement of their own laws]. See City of Chicago v. Sessions.
The Second Circuit used very polite words to brush this nonsense off and apply relevant Supreme Court precedent. Arizona v. United States came back to bite the left. As the Second Circuit case reversed the district judge’s injunction, the case is remanded to be decided on the merits, following the guidance given by the higher court, which is very unwelcome to the district judge.
In the meantime, the administration gets to implement its policy in the Second Circuit area: New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. New York and New York City are the big fish here and will cause particular sound and fury as the relatively modest funds are taken away from their trough.