The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, famously said: “In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.” Fortunately for the people of our nation, President Donald Trump has heeded these words of wisdom.
Unlike his predecessor, whose blatant disregard for the rule of law on immigration exacerbated the proliferation of sanctuary cities, President Trump and his administration have honored their oaths to enforce our immigration laws and protect our borders.
In keeping with this promise, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave notice to law enforcement agencies receiving certain grant dollars that they must comply with federal law and with two conditions aimed at increasing the government’s ability to locate and deport criminal aliens preying on American citizens.
These conditions are in accord with established federal jurisprudence that “the Tenth Amendment does not give States and their subdivisions an untrammeled right to forbid all voluntary cooperation by state or local officials with particular federal programs,” especially in the information sharing context.
Requiring agencies to notify the Department of Homeland Security of the scheduled release dates of criminal aliens wanted by DHS and to allow federal immigration officers on their premises in order to inquire about an individual’s right to remain are common-sense public safety measures.
In July 2016, the Department of Justice Inspector General released a memorandum noting that many jurisdictions receiving federal grant dollars were in violation of the law by withholding immigration information from federal officials. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice mandated a particular condition that jurisdictions offer proof that they were in compliance with federal law regarding information sharing.
Attorney General Sessions simply sustained that policy by including narrowly-tailored conditions to ensure these grant dollars are not given to state and local jurisdictions which frustrate federal immigration enforcement. However, in order to score political points, some of our nation’s largest cities decided to obstruct. And the City of Chicago took their prioritization of protecting illegal immigrants over stopping crime to the courtroom.
Chicago sued the Department of Justice, and the liberal district court and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Attorney General Sessions lacked the authority to impose these two conditions. While their disrespect for the Constitution was egregious enough, their further abuse of the judicial process is causing even more widespread harm.
The nationwide injunction issued by federal courts means that hundreds of millions of grant dollars are being withheld from law enforcement agencies which comply willingly with immigration laws. Because of its nationwide scope, the injunction purports to settle the law for the entire United States. This aggrandizement of power deprives other courts the opportunity to decide the issue for themselves and thereby frustrates the development of law.
The nationwide injunction has essentially blocked the Department of Justice from issuing any funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program. This critical program finances several law enforcement measures such as victim assistance, crisis intervention, body cameras, Tasers and officer overtime pay. The withholding of its funds restrict activities or, in some cases, cause operations to cease entirely.
A recent Harvard-Harris Poll found that Americans strongly support the Trump administration’s actions to reverse the policies of sanctuary jurisdictions. The survey found 80 percent of voters agreed that state and local authorities should cooperate with and report illegal immigrants to federal authorities.
So I join not only the overwhelming majority of American voters, but also the over 3,000 sheriff offices across our country in support of the USDOJ’s position to uphold the rule of law.
Whatever the result of the Chicago action, the court’s relief should not be allowed to affect thousands of others nationwide. Chicago should not hold hostage law enforcement who agree with the conditions and uphold the rule of law.
Jeff Landry is the attorney general of the state of Louisiana. He previously served as a member of Louisiana’s delegation to U.S. House of Representatives.