Judge: Sessions can't deny grant money for sanctuary cities


Chicago: A federal judge on Friday barred the U.S. Justice Department from denying public-safety grants to so-called sanctuary cities in retaliation for limiting cooperation with the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration.

The preliminary injunction issued by US District Judge Harry Leinenweber was in response to a legal challenge brought by Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, but the judge ruled that his order would be applied on a nationwide basis.

City officials have said the ruling will prevent the Justice Department from withholding Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants to cities based on the cities' refusals to take the steps Sessions ordered.

The U.S. Department of Justice will not be permitted to withhold grant funds from cities that refuse to assist federal immigration officials to pursue suspected undocumented immigrants, a judge ruled Friday.

A federal judge has handed a defeat to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he looks to punish so-called "sanctuary cities" such as NY.

"To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country's lawful immigration system", Sessions added, according to Bloomberg.

Trump, however, on 14 September expressed sympathy for those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which offered young illegal immigrants an eventual path to permanent residency and citizenship. Trump later adopted a softer tone toward the 800,000 immigrants protected by DACA, telling them not to worry about being deported.

Whether or not the ruling means that Leinenweber will ultimately decide in favor of the city is unclear, but he did make clear the city has a good case.

"Sanctuary cities" generally have policies where police do not tell immigration authorities when low-level offenders, but comply with federal requests for serious and violent crimes.

In a news conference, Emanuel praised the ruling as an "affirmation of the rule of law".

With the White House seeking to curb immigration across the nation, cities have found themselves on the front lines of a dispute over public safety. Among them are requirements that cities notify immigration agents when someone in the country illegally is about to be released from local jails and to allow agents access to the jails.

Sessions called Chicago's August 7 lawsuit "astounding", saying the city has gone through an unprecedented violent crime surge, "with the number of murders in 2016 surpassing both NY and Los Angeles combined". Now Judge Leinenweber says Sessions was overstepping the bounds of the law. "The city's leaders can not follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve". "Once such trust is lost, it can not be repaired through an award of money damages".

"No amount of federal taxpayer dollars will help a city that refuses to help its own residents", Sessions said in a statement.

The preliminary injunction issued by a U.S. district judge was in response to a legal challenge brought by Chicago, the third-largest city in the US.