Judge: Trump's Justice Department can't deny funds for 'sanctuary cities'

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The justice department wants to be informed when an illegal alien criminal is about to be released from jail so that ICE agents can interview them to determine immigration status. That threat didn't go over well - Chicago received $2.3 million in law enforcement grants in 2016, with a similar amount initially expected in 2017, and city officials expressed concern that the funding shortage would severely impact public safety.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice disagreed.

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.

Federal records show the Justice Department doled out $1 billion in Byrne JAG money to state governments, $430 million to nonprofits and $136 million directly to cities and counties previous year.

The Justice Department grants at issue typically are used to help police improve crime-fighting techniques, buy new equipment and assist victims of crime.

The ruling blocks nationwide enforcement of two of the three new conditions the Justice Department sought to impose on jurisdictions seeking funds through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, which doles out almost $400 million to state and local agencies each year.

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"This is not just a victory for the city of Chicago". A judge in San Francisco restricted a January executive order from Trump that threatened to block all federal funds to sanctuary cities - a catchall term generally used to describe jurisdictions that have some policy of noncooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

The judge agreed, saying, "The harm to the City's relationship with the immigrant community if it should accede to the conditions is irreparable", wrote the judge.

"To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country's lawful immigration system", Sessions added, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this month, Trump announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a lifeline for around 800,000 young undocumented people living in the United States. Trump later adopted a softer tone toward the 800,000 immigrants protected by DACA, telling them not to worry about being deported.

"The court finds that the city has established that it would suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is not entered", Leinenweber said in his ruling.

During a hearing, Ron Safer, a lawyer for the city, said that if the Justice Department prevailed, it could use the same argument to "seize" even more authority to tie grant money to doing what Mr. Sessions wanted.

The Trump administration lost another round in its effort to punish cities that don't cooperate with its crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

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