(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Justice Department can’t make cooperation with federal immigration policies a consideration in awarding grants to local law enforcement agencies for community-oriented policing, a federal judge said.
The ruling in a lawsuit Los Angeles brought against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions marks a new setback in President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities where police forces have refused to get involved in enforcing immigration law.
U.S. District Judge Manuel Real agreed in a ruling Wednesday with the city’s argument that the Justice Department had abused its power by awarding bonus points to grant applicants that commit to cooperating with federal immigration authorities and policies. The grant program was created to help local police departments hire officers for community-oriented policing, or COPS.
“The department has the lawful discretion to give additional consideration for jurisdictions that prioritize the safety of their communities and their law enforcement officers when they promise to cooperate with federal immigration authorities seeking information about illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the court not only rejected this common-sense conclusion, but it chose to issue a permanent nationwide injunction that is overbroad and inconsistent with the rule of law. We look forward to continuing the strong defense of our position.”
San Francisco previously defeated the Trump administration in a legal challenge over the president’s executive order withholding federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. Federal judges in Chicago and Philadelphia also ruled against Trump over the administration’s attempt to make funding conditional on cooperation with its crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
The case is City of Los Angeles v. Jefferson B. Sessions III, 17-CV-07215, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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