Herrera wins ruling that San Francisco’s sanctuary policies comply with federal law

Court also invalidates USDOJ conditions on law enforcement grants

SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 5, 2018) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera released the following statement in response to today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that declared San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinances are lawful, and invalidated grant conditions that the Trump administration tried to use to deny law enforcement funding to sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco:

“Once again, the rule of law has carried the day. The Trump administration should spend less time villainizing immigrants and more time reading the Constitution. Congress has the power of the purse, not the president. These unconstitutional grant conditions were yet another example of presidential overreach. They were also just a bad idea. The Trump administration attacks immigrants and claims to be fighting crime but then seeks to take away money for police, prosecutors and courts. That makes zero sense.

By trying to coerce San Francisco into abandoning sanctuary laws that make our city safer, the Trump administration has been undercutting local law enforcement and endangering our communities by withholding funds for programs that reduce crime.

We’re pleased the court has recognized that San Francisco’s sanctuary laws and policies comply with federal law. Not only that, the court found that the federal law that the Trump administration has been trying to use as a hammer against communities is itself unconstitutional.

Here’s the bottom line: there is no law requiring state or local governments to participate in immigration enforcement. Immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government alone. Federal officials can do their job in San Francisco and anywhere else in the country. San Francisco is not stopping them. San Francisco is not impeding them. But our police, firefighters and nurses are not going to be commandeered and turned into the Trump administration’s deportation force. Communities are safer when residents aren’t afraid to take their children to the doctor, call the fire department in an emergency, or go to the police if they’ve been the victim of a crime. We prioritize our limited law enforcement resources to fight actual crime, not break up hardworking families.”

About the Ruling
Today’s ruling from Judge William H. Orrick found that the conditions the Trump administration was trying to place on certain law enforcement grants are unconstitutional, that San Francisco is in compliance with section 1373, and that section 1373 is itself unconstitutional. The court granted an injunction prohibiting the grant conditions from being applied in San Francisco and California. He also granted a nationwide injunction but stayed its application in places outside of California pending review by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Case Background
Herrera filed the lawsuit on Aug. 11, 2017 in a coordinated approach with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The state of California filed suit shortly after.  Today’s ruling covers grant conditions for fiscal 2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants. Herrera filed a separate case on Aug. 22, 2018 over similar conditions the Trump administration is trying to place on fiscal 2018 grants.

Impact on San Francisco
San Francisco had faced the prospect of losing more than $1.4 million in Byrne JAG funds for fiscal 2017.  A similar amount is at stake for fiscal 2018. The federal government has not disbursed San Francisco’s 2017 funds yet. San Francisco uses these funds for a variety of important law enforcement purposes, including programs designed to reduce recidivism, provide alternative forms of prosecution or enable treatment for underserved populations. Some examples include:

  • Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – an innovative approach to improve public safety by connecting appropriate low-level drug offenders with services
  • Drug Court Prosecution – connects defendants who have substance abuse problems to treatment in the community to reduce recidivism and find appropriate legal outcomes
  • Targeted Drug Treatment for Underserved Populations – a treatment intervention conducted by the Sheriff’s Department for individuals in custody

About Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants
These grants, also known as Byrne JAG funds, have been awarded annually for more than three decades. The U.S. Department of Justice describes them as “the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.”

The grants must be used for one of eight approved program purposes, including: law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, crime victim and witness initiatives, and mental health programs. Federal immigration enforcement is not an approved program purpose.

The grants were created by Congress, which determined the structure and requirements. Unlike discretionary grants, which agencies award pursuant to agency discretion, Byrne JAG funds are formula grants, which do not allow the agency to withhold them from qualified recipients.

The cases are: City and County of San Francisco v. Jefferson B. Sessions III, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case No. 3:17-cv-04642, filed Aug. 11, 2017, and City and County of San Francisco v. Jefferson B. Sessions III, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case No. 3:18-cv-05146-JCS, filed Aug. 22, 2018. Additional documentation is available on the City Attorney’s website at: sfcityattorney.org