DOJ can't withhold grants from 'sanctuary' cities, judge rules

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A federal judge in Chicago has ruled Attorney General Jeff Sessions can't withhold public grant money from so-called sanctuary cities for refusing to follow federal immigration policies. Leinenweber considered new restrictions placed on the grants in July.

A federal judge ruled on Friday that the USA 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 matter has been a subject of constant legal challenges and wrangling ever since; in April, a federal judge in San Francisco similarly ruled against the administration, as did a federal judge in Texas just last month.

The ruling is another blow to Mr. Sessions, a longtime champion of tougher immigration laws. "The Department of Justice will continue to fully enforce existing law and to defend lawful and reasonable grant conditions that seek to protect communities and law enforcement".

"The ruling further frustrates an administration mired in litigation over immigration policy since Trump took office in January".

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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. "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". Leinenweber declined to block a requirement that cities certify their compliance with a federal law barring local governments from restricting the sharing of information with federal immigration authorities.

Sessions described Chicago's lawsuit in August as "astounding". Leinenweber's 41-page opinion argued that Sessions likely exceeded his legal authority with his threats. Total funding for such grants this year was $383.5 million, according to the Justice Department. "The city's leaders can not follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve".

A Justice Department spokesman, Devin O'Malley, declined comment when asked whether the administration would appeal the court order. "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 writes. A judge agreed that the city had a good case and issued the injunction covering the entire country.

"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.