Cities, feds spar in court over immigration requirements

  • Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins speaks during a news conference announcing a plan to file a federal lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Monday, April 29, 2019, in Boston, over its policy of arresting people at courthouses on civil immigration matters. The announcement comes days after federal prosecutors charged a judge and former court officer in Newton, Mass., with obstruction of justice for allegedly helping a man wanted by federal immigration authorities escape a courthouse. (AP Photo/Alanna Durkin Richer) Alanna Durkin Richer

Published: 1/8/2020 11:55:07 PM
Modified: 1/8/2020 11:54:32 PM

BOSTON — Two Rhode Island cities and the Trump administration were back in court Wednesday arguing over whether the federal government can require communities to comply with immigration mandates before receiving federal funding.

A three-judge panel of U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston heard arguments in a case centered on U.S. Department of Justice’s law enforcement grants.

Providence and Central Falls sued the agency in 2018, arguing that new funding conditions it had imposed were unconstitutional and would force local police to act as immigration agents even though the funding had nothing to do with immigration enforcement.

The federal government had required communities receiving the annual grants, which are generally used for police equipment, technology and other upgrades, to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents when immigrants in the country illegally were about to be released from police custody, among other things.

But U.S. District Court Judge John McConnell ruled the department couldn’t impose the conditions and ordered the funding be released to Providence and Central Falls.

The federal government, in its appeal, argued the conditions are appropriate since they’re relevant to law enforcement. It also argued they have precedent since certain federal projects are required to purchase U.S. products.

The appeals court judges are expected to rule later.

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