Philadelphia, DOJ reject judge's plea for 'sanctuary city' consensus

Pat Loeb
May 21, 2018 - 3:12 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The city of Philadelphia and the U.S. Department of Justice have rejected a federal judge's suggestion that they find common ground on an issue of immigration enforcement. 

That means the judge will have to determine the outcome of the city's lawsuit against DOJ. 

The city filed suit after DOJ tried to withhold a $1.6 million grant to assist the police department, saying the city violated grant conditions because it does not alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before an undocumented inmate is released, nor will it hold inmates beyond their release date without a judicial warrant.

Judge Michael Baylson has already granted the city's injunction request, finding its substantially made its case that the DOJ conditions are unconstitutional.

However, on the final day of testimony, May 10, he said he had concerns about public safety issues raised by the city's policy, and urged the city to consider accepting ICE warrants plus the documentation that would be sufficient to obtain a federal warrant. He urged DOJ attornies to provide documentation that would meet the city's requirements.

Both sides sent letters in response, rejecting Baylson's suggestion.

"The City is not willing to modify its policy with respect to an ICE immigration detainer if that detainer were not also accompanied by a judicial warrant of some kind," attornies for the city wrote. "Documents do not, in the City's view, constitute the equivalent of a 'judicial warrant,' and the critical independence such a warrant brings to a process with severe consequences."

Justice Department attornies were similarly unwilling to provide the level of documentation Judge Baylson suggested.

"The burden should not be placed on ICE to jump through hoops to obtain the City's cooperation, particularly when it is the City's own policy that has erected those hoops," they wrote. 

The judge granted the parties an extension to file their final briefs. Those briefs are now due Friday. There's no indication when the judge wil make a final ruling.​