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Trump Says Federal Government Will Begin Withholding Funds from Sanctuary Cities after Court Ruling

An anti-ICE rally in San Diego, Calif., July 2, 2018 (Mike Blake/Reuters)

President Trump said Thursday that the federal government will begin withholding funding from sanctuary cities after a federal court ruling last week upholding the administration’s right to do so.

“As per recent Federal Court ruling, the Federal Government will be withholding funds from Sanctuary Cities. They should change their status and go non-Sanctuary. Do not protect criminals!” Trump wrote in a morning tweet.

A three-judge panel on the 2nd Circuit Appeals Court in Manhattan ruled last Wednesday that the Justice Department could deny millions of dollars in federal-grant funding to cities that buck the administration’s immigration enforcement policies. The court found that Congress has allowed the attorney general the prerogative to impose conditions, such as cooperation with immigration authorities, on the release of federal grant money.

The court’s decision “rightfully recognizes the lawful authority of the attorney general to ensure that Department of Justice grant recipients are not at the same time thwarting federal law enforcement priorities,” a Justice Department spokesman said.

The move comes amid the administration’s crackdown on sanctuary cities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun 24-hour surveillance operations near homes and workplaces of undocumented immigrants in cities that refuse to coordinate with U.S. immigration authorities. The operation to increase arrests includes a request from ICE for at least 500 special agents as well as immigration SWAT teams to locate and deport undocumented immigrants living in sanctuary cities.

Last week’s ruling was the latest in a series of court decisions, many of which ruled against the administration. In 2017, seven states and New York City sued the Justice Department over then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announcement that he would withhold funding from sanctuary cities who attempted to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation by denying access to jails and refusing to share information with authorities.

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