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Judge Blocks Feds From Withholding Funds From Sanctuary Cities

By Tanveer Ali | September 15, 2017 3:51pm
 A federal judge gave the city an early win in its lawsuit against the Trump administration (and Attorney General Jeff Sessions) over threats to take away funds due to Chicago's
A federal judge gave the city an early win in its lawsuit against the Trump administration (and Attorney General Jeff Sessions) over threats to take away funds due to Chicago's "sanctuary" status that keeps law enforcement from collecting and reporting immigration information.
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PBS Newshour

CHICAGO — A federal judge gave the city an early win in its lawsuit against the Trump administration over threats to take away federal funds due to Chicago's "sanctuary" status.

Federal Judge Harry D. Leinenweber issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily would halt requirements issued by the Trump administration that would have forced local law enforcement to provide information on undocumented immigrants and force police to give federal immigration agents access to local detention centers.

The U.S. Department of Justice planned to deny federal Justice Department grants to cities that did not comply with the requirements.

"The harm to the City’s relationship with the immigrant community if it should accede to the conditions is irreparable," Leinenweber wrote in his preliminary injunction decision.

The decision said that the city does not currently have to comply with notifying federal authorities of an undocumented resident released from police custody and that the city does not have to give jail access to immigration agents.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has cast the effort by Trump administration as an attempt to force Chicago to choose between its renewed commitment to community policing and its status as a self-declared "sanctuary city," where officers are prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration agents in most cases.

Cities that get the federal grants would have had to "allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities," Sessions said in a statement.

Sessions responded to the city's lawsuit by noting that more people have been killed in Chicago this year than in New York and Los Angeles combined and asserting that a "culture of lawlessness has beset the city."

"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," Session said in a statement.

In 2016, Chicago got $2.3 million through the grant, which was expanded by the Obama Administration to allow cities to purchase body cameras after a series of fatal encounters between police officers and unarmed civilians. The city got about the same amount from the grant in 2015, city records show.