A Federal Court Just Halted Trump's Efforts to Punish Sanctuary Cities

Wiki Media

A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled Thursday against the Trump administration's effort to withhold federal funds for law enforcement from "sanctuary cities" - saying the term itself is an unfair attack on local authorities.

Sessions has blamed "sanctuary city" policies for crime and gang violence; but defenders of sanctuary city practices say they improve public safety by promoting trust among law enforcement and immigrant communities, and reserving scarce police resources for more urgent crime-fighting needs. Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to the decision, saying, "you can not tie the dollars of the Federal government to coerce a department to change their policies and their values".

The court upheld a ruling by a federal judge a year ago that temporarily stops the Justice Department from imposing new requirements on federal grant money for so-called sanctuary cities.

The Trump administration March 6 sued California to block state laws that extend protections to undocumented people, the most aggressive move yet in its push to force so-called sanctuary cities and states to cooperate with immigration authorities.

One of the three judges, Daniel A. Manion, agreed with the decision as it related to Chicago but said the ruling should not apply nationwide.

In response to the setbacks in court, Sessions has frozen about $250 million in federal grants, including funding to police departments that have agreed to comply with the administration's immigration requirements, until the legal battle is settled.

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"The Attorney General in this case used the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement", Judge Ilana Rovner on behalf of the court.

All three judges on the Seventh Circuit panel were nominated by Republican presidents. He added that the fight with the administration isn't over, noting the funds haven't been distributed. "But the power of the purse rests with Congress, which authorized the federal funds at issue and did not impose any immigration enforcement condition on the receipt of such funds". "It falls to us, the judiciary, as the remaining branch of the government, to act as a check on such usurpation of power".

"Many in the legal community have expressed concern that the use of nationwide injunctions is inconsistent with the separation of powers, and that their increased use creates a unsafe precedent", O'Malley said. "We will continue to fight to carry out the department's commitment to the rule of law, protecting public safety, and keeping criminal aliens off the streets to further perpetrate crimes". The Justice Department appealed the injunction to the appellate court, setting up Thursday's ruling.

U.S. District Decide Harry Leinenweber granted Chicago's request for a short lived nationwide injunction.

Leinenweber's injunction prevents the Justice Department from imposing its restrictions on any sanctuary cities in the USA, not just Chicago.

"Your argument is that the attorney general can impose any condition in addition to the statutory conditions imposed by Congress".

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