Trump can withhold money of Sanctuary Cities!

by Jose Enrique Perez

Whether you believe it or not, yes, he can. The New York based Second Circuit court of Appeals just last month reversed an injunction preventing the Justice Department withholding funding from New York City and seven states in retaliation for their sanctuary policies on immigration.

So, what is all the fuss about a Sanctuary city? It refers to municipal jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with the federal government’s effort to enforce the immigration laws. Leaders of sanctuary cities say they want to reduce fear of deportation and possible family break-up among people who are in the country illegally, so that such people will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school. Municipal policies include prohibiting police or city employees from questioning people about their immigration status and refusing requests by national immigration authorities to detain people beyond their release date, if they were jailed for breaking local law. Such policies can be set expressly in law or observed in practice but the designation “sanctuary city” does not have a precise legal definition. It was estimated in 2018 that 564 U.S. jurisdictions, including states and municipalities, had adopted sanctuary policies. What people don’t really understand is that being in a sanctuary city does not prohibit the federal government from arresting people or doing searches; all it does is that the sanctuary city will not call ICE or Border Patrol if they find or encounter an undocumented person.

Now, based on that decision, the Trump administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement. This was the conclusion of the Court of Appeals in a decision that conflicted with three other federal appeals courts.  

The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court’s decision ordering the administration to release funding to New York City and seven states — Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia and Rhode Island.

The states and NYC sued the U.S. government after the Justice Department announced in 2017 that it would withhold grant money from cities and states until they gave federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.

Before the change, cities and states seeking grant money were required only to show they were not preventing local law enforcement from communicating with federal authorities about the immigration status of people who were detained.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at The Law Office of Jose Perez has now moved and is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the May edition and stay safe, healthy and away of the Coronavirus.