DOJ To Appeal Sanctuary City Court Decision

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday night that the Department of Justice will appeal the federal court decision to temporarily block implementation of President Trump’s executive order regarding sanctuary cities.

The move by Sessions is an apparent reversal as the DOJ was not upset about the decision Tuesday. The decision allowed the department to continue enforcing existing conditions on grants and a law pertaining to sanctuary cities.

A spokesman said that “accordingly” the DOJ will continue to do this. However, the White House later put out a statement that said the federal judge behind the decision, William Orrick, was giving a gift to the “criminal gangs and cartel element in our country.”

Sessions struck a similar tone in his statement Wednesday.

“The Department of Justice cannot accept such a result, and as the President has made clear, we will continue to litigate this case to vindicate the rule of law,” the attorney general said. “This is the Trump era. Progress is being made daily, and it will continue. This will be the Administration that fully enforces our nation’s immigration laws.”

The ruling by Judge Orrick found that the executive order written by President Trump was too vague, and said the administration took a “schizophrenic approach.” He even pointed out in his ruling that a DOJ attorney said the order was just an example of President Trump using his bully pulpit to illustrate a change in immigration policy.

The Daily Caller reported Wednesday that the DOJ had been following guidelines on sanctuary cities set by the Obama administration. Attorney General Sessions said in March: “What I’m saying today is that essentially the policies of the Obama administration that were issued last July make clear that you should not be receiving certain federal funds if you’re not in compliance with 1373.”

8 U.S.C. 1373 is a law that prohibits jurisdictions from restricting in any way the federal government from accessing an individual’s immigration status. Judge Orrick wrote in his decision that the order “equates jurisdictions that refuse to honor detainer requests with the term ‘sanctuary jurisdictions.’”

Dale Wilcox, general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, told TheDC: “By its express terms, Section 1373 only restricts prohibitions on communicating with, sending information to, maintaining information, and exchanging information with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now DHS) regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

“Note however, that the government at times has interpreted Section 1373 to mean more, including compliance with detainer requests,” Wilcox added. “If the government tried to force compliance with detainers using Section 1373, it would likely be challenged, and under this court’s reasoning, enjoined.”

The appeal will be heard by the Ninth Circuit Court — the same appeals court that agreed twice with injunctions against Trump’s proposed temporary bans on refugee entry.

The president told the Washington Examiner Wednesday that he’s “absolutely” looking at splitting up the ninth circuit.