Judge blocks Justice Department move against sanctuary cities

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The city of Chicago argued in court this week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions's threat to withhold Justice Department grants to local authorities that don't cooperate with immigration officials is an.

The judge issued a temporary nationwide injunction in response to a lawsuit brought by the city of Chicago.

The ruling means the Justice Department can not deny grant money requests until Chicago's lawsuit against the agency is concluded.

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A federal judge ruled on Friday that the USA attorney general can not block funding to so-called sanctuary cities after current Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans earlier this year to do just that.

The ruling is another blow to Mr. Sessions, a longtime champion of tougher immigration laws.

Leinenweber, in his 41-page ruling, said that the city could suffer "irreparable harm".

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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.

There are very good reasons why many metropolitan police departments refuse to get involved in checking and enforcing people's immigration statuses, the main one being the downward pressure it exerts on the undocumented. At least seven cities and counties, as well as the State of California, have refused to follow the new federal rules. Nor would he say if he thought that the administration would find another way to punish the city, such as pulling the 20 agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who were recently assigned to the city as part of a new initiative against gun violence. The Trump administration, on the other hand, has accused sanctuary cities of putting politics over public safety.

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 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. Early last month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (D) announced a lawsuit against the Department of Justice over the department's assertion that the city could be denied grants over its immigration stance.

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The case involves cities that vowed to shield illegal immigrants.

In his injunction, Leinenweber found the city likely to prevail on the merits of its argument once the case is considered in its entirety.

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