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RI cities win immigration policing dispute with US government

The two self-described “sanctuary cities” could not be forced to turn local police into federal immigration agents, a court ruled

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer

AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File

By Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The U.S. Department of Justice has dropped its challenge to a court decision that said the federal government could not force two Rhode Island cities to turn local police into federal immigration agents.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera said in a news release that the Justice Department dropped the appeal from the Republican administration of former President Donald Trump, The Providence Journal reported Friday. The department is now led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden

The two cities sued in August 2018 after the federal government required recipients of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to cooperate with authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration law.

Both cities are self-described “sanctuary cities” and do not direct their police forces to carry out federal immigration policy.

A U.S. District Court and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both sided with the cities.

“I am thrilled that the federal courts served as a critical firewall against these unconstitutional directives,” Elorza said in a statement. “We stood proudly in court and stated that Providence is a welcoming city, that we will stand by our values, and we will fight the federal government’s illegal and unconstitutional overreaching.”