In an opinion Friday, Judge Ramos, concurring with other federal courts in Pennsylvania, California and Illinois, found that an Executive Order in July 2017 aimed at so-called “sanctuary cities” was unlawful. The Executive Order conditioned certain federal funds for state and local government law enforcement-related programs (such as drug treatment or witness programs) on those governments cooperating in various specific ways with federal enforcement of immigration laws.
Judge Ramos concluded (among other things) that the conditions were arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act:
Conspicuously absent from [the administrative record] is any discussion of the negative impacts that may result from imposing the conditions, and the record is devoid of any analysis that the perceived benefits outweigh these drawbacks. This absence is particularly glaring given that Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik, in a 2015 letter to Senator Richard Shelby, stated that withholding [the] funding to jurisdictions that do not meet immigration-related conditions “would have a significant, and unintended, impact on the underserved local populations who benefit from these programs, most of whom have no connection to immigration policy.”
Defendants did not consider whether the perceived benefits of the conditions outweighed these negative impacts on underserved local populations or whether such impacts could be mitigated . . . .
In addition, the documents proffered by Defendants do not reflect that they in any way considered whether jurisdictions’ adherence to the conditions would undermine trust and cooperation between local communities and government, or the extent to which this would harm public welfare or frustrate local law enforcement.
Defendants “entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem” by failing to recognize how the conditions would harm local populations, undermine relationships between local communities and law enforcement, and “interfere with local policies that promote public health and safety.” Accordingly, the three challenged conditions are arbitrary and capricious.