L.A. to Join Sanctuary City Lawsuit

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 25, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Los Angeles has filed in federal court to join a lawsuit against the Department of Justice for threatening to withhold law enforcement funds from sanctuary cities.

If approved, L.A. will become the third major city to sue the government over the sanctuary city controversy. San Francisco and Chicago sued after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the DOJ would cut off grants to cities that do not cooperate with the Trump Administration's campaign against illegal immigrants.

"This administration will not simply give away grant dollars to city governments that proudly violate the rule of law and protect criminal aliens at the expense of public safety," Sessions said. "So it's this simple: Comply with the law or forego taxpayer dollars."

First Three

California and San Francisco teamed up earlier this month in Northern California's federal court, which now will decide whether to allow Los Angeles to intervene. L.A.'s attorneys called the DOJ's actions "unconstitutional on their face."

Davin O'Malley, a spokesman for the federal government, said it is "baffling" the city is challenging polices designed to keep residents safer. He said violent crime has risen in Los Angeles for the past three years.

However, Reuters reported that crime has decreased significantly in the city over past 15 years. In 1992, the city reported 1,094 homicides. In 2016, the number had dropped to 294.

San Francisco was the first to sue over President Trump's order to withhold grants from jurisdictions that "willfully refuse" to comply with 8 U.S. Code § 1373. Judge William Orrick III issued an injunction against the order.

300 More

Sessions, in a speech last month, said some 300 municipalities have refused to cooperate with immigration officials regarding illegal aliens who commit crimes. Other jurisdictions, however, are falling in line with the federal government.

Texas, for example, has enacted laws to punish local law enforcement authorities who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration. Police officers there are allowed to inquire about the legal status of anyone they detain.

Police who refuse to comply may be removed from office, fined, or jailed.

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