“Judge Real,” By United States Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

April 12, 2018; New York Times

Even as the Department of Justice was cutting funding to orient detainees to their legal rights in deportation actions, US District Judge Manuel Real ruled that the Department cannot deny federal funding to jurisdictions that refuse to order police to cooperate with immigration agents.

The lawsuit filed by the City of Los Angeles argued that it had been presented with “an untenable choice: Commit to participating in federal civil immigration investigation and enforcement efforts, or sacrifice funds for public safety and community policing.”

But Judge Real ruled that the withholding of funds “upset the constitutional balance between state and federal power by requiring state and local law enforcement to partner with federal authorities.” He also said that the spending decision was not in the DOJ’s purview, but in the hands of Congress.

Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney, called the ruling, a permanent national injunction against the DOJ’s punitive use of access to funding, “yet another dagger in the heart of the administration’s efforts to use federal funds as a weapon to make local jurisdictions complicit in its civil immigration enforcement policies.” On the other hand, DOJ spokesperson Devin M. O’Malley called the ruling “overbroad” and promised an appeal.—Ruth McCambridge