Last week, a Federal Judge in California issued a nation-wide injunction, banning a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) policy meant to ensure local cooperation with Federal immigrant deportation efforts. When applying for Federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, the policy gave preference to police departments, which served municipalities that had agreed to provide Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with information regarding possible illegal immigrants who had been arrested or detained.
Under the DOJ policy instituted last year, when scoring applications for COPS funding, additional points were awarded to police departments that alerted ICE agents, at least 48 hours before release, that they had detained individuals believed to be in the country illegally. Further, ICE agents would be allowed access to jail facilities, so they could interview inmates and review records, prior to release.
The suit was brought against DOJ by the City of Los Angeles, which refused to abide by the new rules. Last year, the City was not awarded any COPS funding, while 80% of the departments that did receive money cooperated with ICE.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real found that tying funds to cooperation with ICE was an improper attempt to force local police to participate in immigration enforcement, which is the job of the federal government. The move, he wrote, “upset the constitutional balance between state and federal power by requiring state and local law enforcement to partner with federal authorities.”
The DOJ is expected to appeal this decision.
Judge Real is currently the longest serving Federal Judge and the only remaining jurist who was appointed to the bench by President Lyndon Johnson.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, FMarshall@njslom.org or 609-695-3481, x137