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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Federal Judge in Chicago Blocks New Requirements For Grants Affecting Sanctuary Cities

A federal judge in Chicago recently blocked the U.S. Justice Department from denying grant funds to “sanctuary cities” – cities that have declined to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement – finding the Department had exceeded its legal authority by requiring cities to either comply with immigration officials or face losing public safety grant funds. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed new requirements on the Justice Department’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. That program funds state and local law enforcement initiatives. The new requirements would have allowed federal immigration authorities access to local jails. They would also require cities to provide 48 hours notice before they release an immigrant who was in the country illegally in order to allow time for them to be apprehended by federal immigration authorities. Any cities that refused to comply would have had their Byrne funds withheld.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel filed suit arguing that Chicago would not “be blackmailed” into changing its values as a “sanctuary city” that is welcoming of immigrants.  Enacting the Justice Department requirements would, claimed Emanuel, “drive a wedge of distrust” between the immigrant community and police forces.  Prior to the new requirements, Chicago had requested $1.5 million in Byrne grant funds for next year, all of which would presumably be withheld due to its status as a “sanctuary city.”

Finding that Congress provided no authorization for the Attorney General to add the new conditions to the Byrne program, the federal judge placed a temporary nationwide injunction on the new requirements in order to prevent the Justice Department from withholding grant money until there is a final determination in the suit. 

Post Authored by Jessi DeWalt, Ancel Glink


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