A federal judge issued a ruling Friday that will prevent the Department of Justice from imposing funding penalties on sanctuary cities that defy the government’s immigration laws.
The injunction will affect dozens of cities and states nationwide that have established policies that order law enforcement not to cooperate with immigration officials.
The city of Chicago brought the suit in response to a Justice Department cut in funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The amount was small — just $3.2 million — but the judge agreed with the city’s claim that they would suffer “irreparable harm” without the money.
Chicago sued in August after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would cut off cities from certain Justice Department grants unless they allowed federal immigration authorities unlimited access to local jails and provided 48 hours’ notice before releasing anyone wanted for immigration violations.
The lawsuit contended that Sessions exceeded his authority by imposing new conditions beyond those Congress prescribed when it established the grant program. In his injunction, Leinenweber found the city likely to prevail on the merits of its argument once the case is considered in its entirety.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed Friday’s decision at a City Hall news conference as “an affirmation of the rule of law.”
”It’s an assertion of our most fundamental American values and it’s an unambiguous, clear rejection of the false choice that the Trump Justice Department wanted Chicago to make between our values, our principles and our priorities,” Emanuel said.
A Justice Department spokesman, Devin O‘Malley, declined comment when asked whether the administration would appeal the court order.
President Donald Trump has made tougher immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his campaign and presidency, along with a pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.
As part of that policy, the Justice Department has sought to punish cities and other local jurisdictions that have joined a growing “sanctuary” movement aimed at shielding illegal immigrants from stepped-up deportation efforts.
The Trump administration has argued that its deportation crackdown is focused on illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes, and that public safety is jeopardized when police refuse to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of plans to release such a person from local custody.
“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.
But critics counter that enlisting police cooperation in rounding up immigrants for removal undermines communities’ trust in local law enforcement, particularly among Latinos, and they have questioned whether the administration is really targeting dangerous criminals.
It’s possible that the ban could be temporary if Congress changes the funding mechanism for the Byrne grants and gives AG Sessions the authority to withhold the funds.
Until then, cities are free to release anyone they wish from police custody with no interference from immigration agents. But why? So they don’t discourage other illegal aliens from cooperating with police? Do we really believe someone here illegally willingly cooperates with law enforcement? That’s nuts.
Legal immigrants and citizens in these “immigrant communities” would prefer not to allow violent criminals to be released back into their neighborhoods. In the case of sanctuary cities, immigration activists pretty much dictate policy toward illegals, who are a source of cheap labor for a city’s businesses. Regardless of why these cities refuse to cooperate, they should be made to suffer the consequences for endangering their own citizens.