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Judge blocks federal government’s plan to withhold funds from ‘sanctuary cities’

Chicago Police. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Police/TNS)

For the second time, a federal judge in Chicago rejected a U.S. Justice Department plan to withhold law enforcement grants from so-called sanctuary cities and said his ruling applied nationwide.

The city of Chicago sued the Justice Department, arguing that it’s policies of policing and cooperating with immigrant communities must be upheld. Chicago doesn’t cooperate with immigration authorities about the status of a suspect unless they are a known gang members or violent felons.

Under the Justice Department plan, cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, would be denied funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The conditions would require city police to contact immigration officials and hold those in custody suspected of being undocumented until immigration officials arrive.

U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber said those conditions of the grants violate the separation of powers.

“A federal need for state information does not automatically free the federal government of the sometimes laborious requirement to acquire that information by constitutional means,” Leinenweber said in a 58-page ruling.

Justice Department representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Leinenweber, who issued a similar but temporary ruling in September, said Tuesday’s ruling shall be applied nationwide. Meanwhile, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said it would consider whether Leinenweber’s previous ruling may be applied nationwide.


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