PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney today hailed as “a total and complete victory” U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson’s ruling in favor of Philadelphia in the City’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice, for withholding grant funding in response to Philadelphia’s immigration policy.
In his 93-page memo, Judge Baylson ruled completely in the City’s favor, stating that the three immigration-related conditions imposed by the federal government for Philadelphia to receive Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding are unconstitutional.
Mayor Jim Kenney:
“This is an important moment for all Philadelphians, especially our immigrant community. Judge Baylson’s ruling is a total and complete victory for the City. It prevents a White House run by a bully from bullying Philadelphia into changing its policies. It is a ruling that should make clear to Attorney General Sessions that federal grant dollars cannot be used for a political shakedown. It is, most of all, a ruling that reminds everyone of why this City and this country exist — to give safe haven, and hope, to those who flee tyranny, oppression and poverty in other parts of the world — to be a welcoming nation.”
City Solicitor Marcel Pratt:
“The Judge has ruled in all respects in favor of the City of Philadelphia and against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice. The Judge has determined that the Attorney General, for multiple reasons, violated the Constitution and unlawfully attached conditions to the City’s 2017 Byrne JAG grant application related to the City’s policies regarding immigrants residing in Philadelphia. We are grateful that Judge Baylson appreciates how valuable the City’s immigrant-related policies are to the City and people of Philadelphia and how our policies support, not detract from, the City’s efforts to fight crime and make all people feel welcome in our great City.”
Miriam Enriquez, Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs:
“Philadelphians, including the immigrant community, will be greatly relieved and heartened by this ruling. Judge Baylson’s decision confirms what we have known all along – that our policies make our city stronger and safer. This should reaffirm to our immigrant communities that we are glad you are here, we want you here, and we will always fight to ensure that Philadelphia remains a welcoming city to all.”
In August of 2017, the City of Philadelphia filed suit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asserting that added unlawful conditions were added to Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. These new conditions required that the City (1) certify compliance with Section 1373 of Title 8 of the U.S. Code; (2) provide ICE with 48-hours-notice of the “scheduled release” of prisoners of interest; and (3) allow ICE unfettered access to interview inmates in Philadelphia’s prison system. The funding from JAG Grants goes towards priorities like police overtime and equipment enhancements, upgrades to courtroom technology, training for law enforcement, and alternative programming for low level offenders.
This ruling followed an earlier ruling, in November 2017, preliminarily prohibiting DOJ from attaching the conditions to the grant.
The City has been represented by City Solicitor Marcel Pratt; Senior Attorney Lewis Rosman; and multiple attorneys from the law firm of Hogan Lovells. Hogan Lovells attorneys Virginia Gibson, Sara Solow, Jasmeet Ahuja and Alex Bowerman put in hundreds of hours of incredible work on the City’s behalf. The lawsuit was initiated under City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante.