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Federal court rules that Trump administration cannot withhold grant money for 'sanctuary cities

A protester holds a sign during a demonstration outside of the San Francisco office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 19, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Hundreds of protesters staged a demonstration outside of the ICE offices in San Francisco against the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy to separate immigrant families at the border. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A U.S. judge has ruled that the Trump administration cannot use restrictions on public safety grants as a way to crackdown on illegal immigration. He also ordered that the federal funding must be released to so-called “sanctuary cities” in California.

What does this mean?

Judge William Orrick ruled Friday that conditions place on the grants last year by Attorney General Jeff Sessions were unconstitutional, according to Reuters. He stayed a nationwide injunction in anticipation of an appeal.

Orrick's decision came in response to lawsuits by California and San Francisco. Similar lawsuits are pending in in the cities of Chicago and Philadelphia.

What are people saying?

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called the ruling a victory. In a 2017 lawsuit against the Trump administration, he argued that withholding $28 million in federal funds for the state would hinder law enforcement efforts. The lawsuit also maintained that strict immigration policies limit the ability of police get cooperation from the community, which law enforcement needs to solve crimes.

“We will continue to stand up to the Trump administration’s attempts to force our law enforcement into changing its policies and practices in ways that that would make us less safe,” he said in a statement to the Associated Press.

Orrick’s decision is significant because it covers a major target of the Trump administration’s opposition to sanctuary jurisdictions, the Associated Press reported.

The administration has said that sanctuary cities and states serve as safe havens for illegal immigrants who are also violent criminals. The mainstream media and activist groups have aggressively refuted that claim.

More than a year ago, Sessions announced that Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grants could only be given to cities and states that allow federal agents to access jails and prisons, according to published reports. Cities and states were also required share information with federal officials on the pending release of people who entered the country illegally.

Under Orrick’s ruling, the U.S. Department of Justice cannot require those criteria for Byrne grants.

“These unconstitutional grant conditions were yet another example of presidential overreach,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement.

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