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Federal judge rules sanctuary city policy legal

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Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner

In a blow to the Trump administration’s threats to punish San Francisco for its sanctuary city policies, a federal judge Friday ruled The City’s sanctuary laws comply with federal law, and attempts to deny federal funding based on them are unconstitutional.

“The Trump administration should spend less time villainizing immigrants and more time reading the Constitution. Congress has the power of the purse, not the president,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “There is no law requiring state or local governments to participate in immigration enforcement. Immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government alone.”

“San Francisco will always be a sanctuary city that stands up for our immigrant communities,” said Mayor London Breed. “Our sanctuary ordinance makes us safer. Our residents should not live in fear of calling the police to report crimes or working with law enforcement to strengthen our communities.”

Herrera filed the lawsuit in August 2017 over restrictions the Trump administration placed on releasing funds for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants.

Also known as Byrne JAG funds, the grants have been awarded annually for more than three decades. The City uses the roughly $1.4 million grant for law enforcement purposes such as drug court prosecution and targeted drug treatment for underserved populations, the city attorney’s office said.

Today’s ruling covers grant conditions for fiscal year 2017. A separate lawsuit was filed in August 2018 over similar conditions the Trump administration is attempting to place on grants in fiscal year 2018.

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