In the midst of a federal court ruling in California this week blocking the Trump Administration from withholding federal funds from jurisdictions it deems as “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants, Jackson is crafting its response to federal officials, still standing firmly behind its anti-racial and ethnic profiling ordinance.
“The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the
Executive Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” U.S. District Judge William Orrick III, of San Francisco, wrote in his order, blocking an executive order President Donald Trump signed five days after taking office in January.
“Further, the Tenth Amendment requires that conditions on federal funds be unambiguous and timely made; that they bear some relation to the funds at issue; and that they not be unduly coercive. Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.”
That order comes on the heels of the Justice Department sending letters last week to officials in 29 cities, counties and states requesting they prove that they are in compliance with federal immigration laws. In addition to Jackson, the Attorney General also sent notices to Los Angeles, Denver and Washington, D.C.; and the states of Illinois, Oregon and Vermont.
Department of Justice officials said that Monday’s U. S. District Court ruling to permanently block the executive order does not erase that Dec. 8 deadline to reply to last week’s letter. Officials also added that they plan to appeal that decision.
“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” said Devin O’Malley, a Department of Justice spokesman. “The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”
Kai Williams, a spokeswoman for the city of Jackson, said Tuesday that the city acknowledges the ruling stating the Justice Department’s threatened actions are rooted in an unconstitutional executive order.
Williams said after carefully considering Monday’s decision and other rulings, the city will prepare a response to the Justice Department’s letter sent to Jackson and 28 other jurisdictions saying each may have laws, policies or practices that violate a federal immigration enforcement statute.
“The City’s anti-profiling ordinance, as worded and practiced, is not in violation of federal immigration laws,” Williams said in a statement. “The ordinance falls short of establishing a sanctuary from federal immigrations laws. However, the ordinance echoes the ‘sanctuary’ promised individuals by the U.S. Constitution against acts of racial and ethnic profiling by the government.”
Monday’s ruling followed lawsuits from two California counties addressing President Trump’s January executive order that aims to punish cities, counties and states attempting to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation by federal authorities with assistance from local law enforcement.
In the letter dated Nov. 15 but addressed to former Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber, federal justice officials cite an ordinance Jackson adopted in 2010 that prohibits police from questioning people about their immigration status solely to determine if they are in the country illegally.
Last week, Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba responded to the Justice Department’s threats to cut law enforcement funding, saying Jackson officials “unflinchingly uphold the canon of human rights for human beings” in regards to the city ordinance.
The funding in question is the city’s fiscal year 2016 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, or JAG, award. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program JAG allows states and units of local government, including tribes, to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime based on their own state and local needs and conditions, the Department of Justice website says.
Mississippi received $1.8 million from the program in fiscal year 2017, records show.