Judge: Justice Department can't deny grant money for sanctuary cities

Judge: Justice Department can't deny grant money for sanctuary cities

U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber issued a nationwide injunction Friday prohibiting the Justice Department from withholding federal grant money from municipalities that protect immigrants.

The upshot of the ruling is that, for the time being at least, the administration is barred from pulling funding from so-called sanctuary cities, a label typically applied to places where local police departments do not attempt to enforce immigration law when dealing with potentially undocumented immigrants in their communities.

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

The ruling is another blow to Sessions, a longtime champion of tougher immigration laws. As a presidential candidate, Trump pledged to ramp up deportations and build a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

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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.

Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, stood to lose its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant - which previous year was $2.3 million - for failing to comply with the Justice Department's conditions.

"Some states and cities have adopted policies created to frustrate the enforcement of our immigration laws", Sessions said.

Let's be clear what the city of Chicago and other sanctuary cities are fighting so hard for. Early last month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (D) announced a lawsuit against the Department of Justice over the department's assertion that the city could be denied grants over its immigration stance.

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Multiple major cities have refused to cooperate with immigration agents by, say, notifying ICE when an undocumented immigrant is released from jail.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice disagreed. "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, making it the type of harm that is especially hard to rectify", Leinenweber wrote.

Leinenweber also ruled that in its legal arguments, Chicago had shown a "likelihood of success" with the allegation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions overstepped his authority when he announced the regulations in july.

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The preliminary injunction applies to more than 400 cities nationwide. Total funding for such grants this year was $383.5 million, according to the Justice Department.

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