Philadelphia sues feds over grant restrictions for sanctuary cities

Attorney General

Attorney General Jeff Sessions/Gage Skidmore

Philadelphia is the latest jurisdiction to file a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Justice Department’s new restrictions on grants for sanctuary cities.

City officials announced the suit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, report Philly.com, Philly Voice and CBS Philadelphia.

Other jurisdictions that that have sued over the new restrictions include Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the state of California, according to Philly.com.

Philadelphia bars police from asking about immigration status and requires federal immigration officials to get a warrant before the city will release a detainee into federal custody. “As the City of Brotherly Love,” the suit says, “Philadelphia is recognized as a vital hub for immigrants from across the globe who seek good jobs and better futures for themselves and their children.”

The Justice Department requires jurisdictions to agree to two conditions if they receive the federal grants for police overtime and training. They have to give federal immigration officials 48 hours’ notice before releasing an inmate wanted on an immigration detainer, and they have to give federal immigration officials unrestricted access to detention facilities to ask immigrants about their right to remain in the United States.

The suit alleges the restrictions violate the Administrative Procedures Act and the spending clause of the Constitution.

Only Congress has the power to impose restrictions on grants, according to city solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante.

“The grants have nothing to do with enforcing immigration laws,” Tulante tells Philly.com. “There’s no federal statute that authorizes Sessions to apply these conditions. The Trump administration is entitled to disagree with our policies, but they cannot make up rules beyond the directives of Congress.”


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