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Chicago judge blocks Sessions' sanctuary city funds order

17 September 2017

U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in IL said in a 41-page ruling that Attorney General Jeff Sessions likely overstepped his authority in efforts to urge sanctuary cities to give federal agents access to jails or tip them off when a suspected undocumented immigrant is scheduled for release.

"By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with "so-called" sanctuary policies make their communities less safe and undermine the rule of law", O'Malley said.

In granting his injunction, Judge Leinenweber found that the city of Chicago has established "a likelihood of success" in prevailing on the merits of its case once the lawsuit is considered in its entirety.

A federal judge ruled on Friday that the US attorney general can not block funding to so-called sanctuary cities after current Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans earlier this year to do just that. The government threatened cut off some of their federal funding but Friday a judge sided with the cities and not the government. The ruling further frustrates an administration mired in litigation over immigration policy since Trump took office in January. As a presidential candidate, Trump pledged to ramp up deportations and build a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

It's unclear whether the ruling means the Leinenweber will ultimately decide in favor of the city.

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At stake was more than $2 million that Chicago and its neighboring jurisdictions receive from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants.

Debates over immigration often involve more histrionics than policy. At least seven cities and counties, as well as the State of California, have refused to follow the new federal rules. The Trump administration, on the other hand, has accused sanctuary cities of putting politics over public safety. "The new standards would also require local authorities to give 48 hours' notice "where practicable" before releasing from custody people who federal immigration agents suspect of being in the country illegally".

However, Leinenweber ruled against Chicago insofar as it objected to being required to certify its compliance with a federal law that prohibits local law enforcement from restricting the sharing of information about the citizenship status of an individual. Total funding for such grants this year was $383.5 million, according to the Justice Department.

Trump wrote on Twitter that a new immigration bill cannot include "chain migration", a term that advocates of limiting immigrants use to describe how new USA citizens can sponsor family members in obtaining legal status.

It remains to be seen what step the administration will take next, or whether Trump himself will speak out about the ruling. The ruling is likely temporary as the law is expected to change, with Congress giving that authority to the DoJ.

Chicago judge blocks Sessions' sanctuary city funds order