The Justice Department cannot require that local police departments help immigration agents to receive federal funding, a federal judge ruled. The ruling is a significant victory for local governments that have opposed the Trump administration’s stance on immigration and vowed to stay out of enforcement efforts, the New York Times reports. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles issued a permanent national injunction against the federal funding rules, giving the city an important win in a long-running legal battle with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the White House. The ruling is “a complete victory,” said Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney. “This is yet another dagger in the heart of the administration’s efforts to use federal funds as a weapon to make local jurisdictions complicit in its civil immigration enforcement policies.”
A Justice Department spokesman suggested an appeal was likely. The federal government is legally entitled to give priority in its grant funding to local governments “that prioritize the safety of their communities and their law enforcement officers when they promise to cooperate with federal immigration authorities seeking information about illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” he said in a statement. The ruling came in one of several lawsuits that state and city officials in California have filed against the U.S. government arguing that it has overreached in trying to force local officers to help with immigration enforcement. Police departments seeking a share of the $98 million pool of grant money last year were asked to demonstrate that they have a policy of alerting immigration agents before releasing inmates and giving immigration agents access to jails to conduct inmate interviews and review files.