​ L.A. Forum-Shopping in San Francisco to Fight Sanctuary City Ban

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The City of Los Angeles wants to go forum shopping in San Francisco to prevent the U.S. government from cutting off law enforcement grants to “sanctuary city” municipalities that refuse to cooperate fully with U.S. immigration enforcement.

Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer on August 22 filed a federal lawsuit against conditions imposed by the Department of Justice requiring cooperation with federal immigration law enforcement as a prerequisite to receiving public safety grants. Fewer also requested the court allow Los Angeles the right to consolidate its claims with a similar suit filed by San Francisco and the State of California.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on August 14 filed their second joint lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit names U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions as defendant for threating to strip federal funding from a sanctuary city. L.A.’s transfer request is perceived as a “forum-shopping” legal tactic to have the case heard in America’s ultra-liberal San Francisco federal courthouse.

It is unclear in the Los Angeles lawsuit what the dollar amounts of the federal grants in question actually are, but the San Francisco/California lawsuit claims the City of San Francisco is at risk for about $1.5 million and that $28 million is at risk statewide, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

In an earlier lawsuit, U.S. Judge William H. Orrick issued a preliminary injunction on April 25 to block the U.S. Department of Justice from enforcing President Trump’s January executive order on immigration that ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department to prohibit cities refusing to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement from receiving federal law enforcement grants and funds.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged in a statement that the Justice Department would continue to litigate the case to “vindicate the rule of law.” He added: “Actions that have always been understood to be squarely within the powers of the President, regardless of the administration, have now been enjoined.”

Although Judge Orrick’s ruling did not find the policy unconstitutional, he did find that the coalition of California cities and counties that challenged the law demonstrated to the court that they could face “immediate irreparable harm” if the policy was allowed to be implemented, and that the plaintiffs’ constitutional challenge could succeed when the case is fully heard.

The White House called the ruling an “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge” that undermined faith in America’s legal system and raised questions about forum shopping. The White House is committed to pursuing these cases all the way to the Supreme Court to “impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States,” according to Politico.

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