June 6 (UPI) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday the U.S. Justice Department can’t deny grants to the city of Philadelphia, Pa., for refusing to assist immigration officials.
Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempt to withhold $1.6 million in federal law-enforcement grant money under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant was unconstitutional and that Philadelphia’s so-called sanctuary policies are reasonable and appropriate.
“The city is entitled to prompt payment of the JAG funds,” Baylson wrote.
Philadelphia challenged three conditions of the grant including that the city must provide U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to city prisons to interview inmates, notify ICE in advance when undocumented individuals are released from prison and comply with a law requiring local officials to share information about the citizenship or immigration status of any person.
“The public statements of President [Donald] Trump and Attorney General Sessions, asserting that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born citizens, are inaccurate as applied to Philadelphia, and do not justify the imposition of these three conditions,” Baylson wrote.
He added Sessions didn’t follow established law in declaring the three conditions and that Philadelphia would “suffer irreparable harm” if the conditions aren’t prohibited.
Baylson made a number of literary references in his ruling, including Homer’s The Odyssey.
“To Philadelphia, Scylla represents compliance with a federal statute requiring that the city issue no guidance restricting its police and other officials from sharing information about the immigration status of City residents, while Charybdis represents $1.6 million that Philadelphia would use to provide vital resources to bolster its local criminal justice prerogative,” Baylson wrote, naming sea monsters in from the ancient Greek epic poem.
He aded the city “can steer safely to Thrinacia, accepting the $1.6 million without compromising its local objectives,” following the ruling.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney praised the ruling as a reminder that the city and the nation exist to provide safe haven to those fleeing tyranny, oppression and poverty in other parts of the world.
“Judge Baylson’s ruling is a total and complete victory for the City,” Kenney said. “It prevents a White House run by a bully from bullying Philadelphia into changing its policies.”
Philadelphia vs. Jeff Sessions (PDF)
Philadelphia vs. Jeff Sessions (Text)