Judge: Ses­sions can’t deny sanc­tu­ary cities grant money

Albuquerque Journal - - NATION -

CHICAGO — At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions can’t fol­low through — at least for now — with his threat to with­hold pub­lic safety grant money to Chicago and other so-called sanc­tu­ary cities for re­fus­ing to im­pose new tough im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, a judge ruled Fri­day in a le­gal de­feat for the Trump administration.

In what is at least a tem­po­rary vic­tory for cities that have de­fied Ses­sions, U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinen­we­ber ruled that the Jus­tice Depart­ment could not im­pose the re­quire­ments.

He said the city had shown a “like­li­hood of suc­cess” in ar­gu­ing that Ses­sions ex­ceeded his author­ity with the new con­di­tions. Among them are re­quire­ments that cities no­tify im­mi­gra­tion agents when some­one in the coun­try il­le­gally is about to be re­leased from lo­cal jails and to al­low agents ac­cess to the jails.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the rul­ing a vic­tory for cities, coun­ties and states na­tion­wide and “a clear state­ment that the Trump administration is wrong.”

“It means es­sen­tial re­sources for pub­lic safety will not come with un­law­ful strings at­tached, and the Trump jus­tice depart­ment can­not con­tinue to co­erce us into vi­o­lat­ing and aban­don­ing our val­ues,” Emanuel said. The city had asked the judge for a “na­tion­wide” tem­po­rary in­junc­tion this week, ask­ing the judge not to al­low the Jus­tice Depart­ment to im­pose the re­quire­ments un­til the city’s law­suit against the depart­ment plays out in court.

City of­fi­cials have said such a rul­ing would pre­vent the Jus­tice Depart­ment from with­hold­ing what are called Ed­ward Byrne Me­mo­rial Jus­tice As­sis­tance Grants to the cities based on their re­fusal to take the steps Ses­sions or­dered.

Chicago has ap­plied for $2.2 mil­lion in the fed­eral grant money — $1.5 mil­lion for the city and the rest for Cook County and 10 other sub­urbs. But in a re­cent court hear­ing, at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing the city said that more than 30 other ju­ris­dic­tions across the United States filed court briefs sup­port­ing Chicago’s law­suit and have up to $35 mil­lion in grants at stake. At least seven cities and coun­ties, in­clud­ing Seat­tle and San Fran­cisco, as well as the state of Cal­i­for­nia, are re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate with the new fed­eral rules.

Leinen­we­ber’s rul­ing was not wel­comed at the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

“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,” spokesman Devin O’Mal­ley said. “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.”

Ses­sions is a long­time champion of tougher im­mi­gra­tion laws.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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