Immigration policy: San Francisco wins legal battle against US government

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Washington, Oct 6 (IANS) City Attorney for the US city of San Francisco announced a victory in a legal battle against the federal government over an immigration law that was invoked by the White House to deny a federal grant to the city.

In response to a ruling by Judge William Orrick of the US Court for the Northern District of California that declared San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinances were lawful, attorney Dennis Herrera said the federal government’s attempt to impose conditions on law enforcement grants for the city was “unconstitutional”.

“We’re pleased the court has recognized that San Francisco’s sanctuary laws and policies comply with federal law,” Herrera was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.

Orrick’s ruling asked the US Department of Justice to give California $28 million that was withheld after the White House challenged the state’s immigration policies.

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Herrera filed a lawsuit on August 11, 2017 along with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, after US President Donald Trump threatened to deny San Francisco law enforcement more than $1.4 million in grants for the 2017 fiscal year.

The funds were from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Programme, which was created by Congress and awarded annually for more than 30 years, but the federal government had not disbursed the 2017 funds to San Francisco because of the federal and local disputes over immigration policies.

San Francisco and other sanctuary cities had declined to obey orders from the White House requiring the local police to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement units in rounding up undocumented immigrants.

The sanctuary cities said such cooperation with federal immigration officers would turn away local people who feared to be questioned about their immigration status if they want to report crimes to the police.

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“There is no law requiring state or local governments to participate in immigration enforcement,” Herrera said, adding that San Francisco’s police and firefighters “were not going to be commandeered and turned into the Trump administration’s deportation force”.

He said San Francisco will use the Byrne funds for important law enforcement purposes, including programmes designed to reduce recidivism, provide alternative forms of prosecution or enable treatment for underserved populations.

–IANS

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