Federal appeals court hears arguments over city's immigration policies

Pat Loeb
November 07, 2018 - 5:59 pm
Philadelphia City Hall

Courtesy of Paul Gluck

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — At the moment Jeff Sessions was resigning, a federal appeals court was hearing arguments in the City of Philadelphia's case against him, over its sanctuary city policies. 

The arguments revolved around the limit of the attorney general's powers, rather than Philadelphia's sanctuary policy.

The attorney general tried to withhold a grant to Philadelphia police unless the city changed its policy and started giving immigration agents notice of and access to undocumented immigrants in its system. 

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A district judge ruled he overstepped but, Katherine Allen, a Justice Department attorney, argued before the three-judge panel that the bill authorizing the grant program does give the attorney general the power to impose conditions. She told the panel, "we're not funding a police department that interferes with federal law enforcement." 

Perhaps some conditions, the city's attorney argued, but nothing so sweeping and so far removed from the purpose of the grant which, he said, is to empower local officials to reduce crime. Sessions' conditions, he said, do the opposite. 

The panel is expected to take its time in rendering a decision.