A federal judge has granted Philadelphia officials an injunction against the Trump administration, blocking the federal government’s attempt to withhold law-enforcement money from so-called sanctuary cities.
U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson issued a massive 128-page ruling Wednesday, writing that after applying the requisite proof for a preliminary injunction, which includes probability of success on the merits and the public interest, “the court will issue a preliminary injunction in favor of the city.”
The ruling comes two weeks after Baylson declared from the bench that the city of Philadelphia substantially complied with the Trump administration’s conditions.
At the heart of the case is a relatively small amount of money — a $1.5 million federal grant to a city with a $4.4 billion budget — but a big principle: whether the Trump administration can withhold money unless the city agrees to more actively help federal agents identify and arrest people who immigrated without appropriate documents.
The city filed suit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions in August.
“Both the federal government and the city of Philadelphia have important interests at stake here and the court does not minimize either of their concerns,” the judge wrote. “In this case, given Philadelphia’s unique approach to meshing the legitimate needs of the federal government to remove criminal aliens with the City’s promotion of health and safety, there is no conflict of any significance.”
Broadly defined, a sanctuary city limits its cooperation with federal authorities who enforce immigration law. Those cities’ leaders aim to ease fears of deportation among undocumented residents, believing that members of immigrant communities will then be more willing to report crime.
President Trump and Sessions have argued that sanctuary city policies allow dangerous criminals to be released to prey on local neighborhoods when instead they should be returned to their homelands. The administration aims to withhold grant money as a means to make cities assist federal agents seeking to deport undocumented immigrants.
Philadelphia officials say they reject the moniker of “sanctuary city,” that they merely enforce city policies that provide equal treatment for those who come in contact with the criminal-justice system, regardless of their immigration status. Immigrants who commit crimes are arrested and charged, just like everyone else, city officials said.
by Jeff Gammage, Staff Writer
Updated: NOVEMBER 15, 2017 — 12:19 PM EST