U.S. can't halt public-safety grants to sanctuary cities, judge rules

Do Sanctuary Cities Actually Provide Sanctuary

Do Sanctuary Cities Actually Provide Sanctuary

A judge blocked the Justice Department's attempt to withhold law enforcement funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says a federal judge's ruling that Attorney General Jeff Sessions can not withhold grant money to so-called sanctuary cities is a clear statement "that the Trump administration is wrong".

The move was a significant escalation in the Trump administration's approach to sanctuary jurisdictions, which typically refuse to honor federal requests to detain immigrants in jails past their scheduled release dates unless the requests are accompanied by a judicial warrant. Several weeks later, the city of Chicago sued Sessions, arguing that the new policy violated both the Constitution and federal law. Earlier this month, Sessions announced that the administration would end a program that protects young immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children or came with families who overstayed their visas.

President Trump later announced he was working on an agreement to protect them.

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

Federal records show the Justice Department doled out $1 billion in Byrne JAG money to state governments, $430 million to nonprofits and $136 million directly to cities and counties a year ago. Nor would he say if he thought that the administration would find another way to punish the city, such as pulling the 20 agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who were recently assigned to the city as part of a new initiative against gun violence.


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.

In July, Sessions added new requirements for local law enforcement - specifically requiring access to jails and information on suspected undocumented immigrants 48 hours before they are released from jail - in order to be eligible for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

The judge said it was likely Attorney General Jeff Sessions had overstepped his authority with the order. "Once such trust is lost, it can not be repaired through an award of money damages". The injunction applies to cities nationwide.

The Justice Department funding would have been just a small fraction of Chicago's overall budget, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it was important for the city to maintain its "status as a welcoming city" to immigrants.

"As Washington squabbles over rolling back sensible immigration policy, we are taking action to help protect all New Yorkers from unwarranted targeting by government", Cuomo said in a statement accompanying his order.

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