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Federal Judge Blocks Trump's Attempt To Punish Sanctuary Cities Like Chicago

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Sep 15, 2017 9:44PM

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a ceremony in memory of the 9/11 attacks (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

A judge sided with Chicago in its suit against the Trump administration's attempt to punish sanctuary cities. The Department of Justice sought to withhold millions of dollars in grants to cities like Chicago that refuse to share the immigration status of suspects in custody with federal immigration officials.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber said the city has shown a "likelihood of success" in its legal arguments, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago argued that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Beauregard Sessions exceeded his authority in withholding Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants from sanctuary cities.

Leinenweber called the move an "unprecedented seizure of power" and granted a preliminary injunction that will be in effect nationwide, according to Bloomberg. San Francisco, Los Angeles and the state of California also sued over the threat of losing the Byrne grants.

Currently, Chicago only shares information with federal immigration officials if an immigrant is charged or convicted of a serious crime. Sessions wanted cities to give 48 hours of notice before they release anyone suspected of immigration violations. He also demanded cities give ICE officials unlimited access to local police stations and law enforcement facilities. He claimed cities that don't comply "make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws." Sessions and other Trump officials have repeatedly blasted Chicago and said its lack of cooperation with immigration officials endangers the city.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel has argued that these requirements represent a constitutional overreach and that they, in fact, make residents less safe. Immigrants afraid to go to local law enforcement because they fear deportation are less likely to report crimes and cooperate. Though the grant money represents just $3.2 million of the $24.5 million that Chicago receives from the Department of Justice, Emanuel said that this overreach represented a slippery slope that could lead to more strings being attached to federal funding.