Federal Judge Blocks Sessions’ Move to Punish Sanctuary Cities

The ruling is the second blow in two weeks for Republicans’ crusade against sanctuary cities.

Susan Walsh/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

A federal judge in Chicago just blocked Attorney General Jeff Sessions from withholding grant money from so-called sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with the Trump administration’s strict immigration enforcement policies.

Sessions announced in July that the Justice Department would no longer give a type of federal public safety grant to jurisdictions that withhold information about crime suspects from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Several weeks later, the city of Chicago sued Sessions, arguing that the new policy violated both the Constitution and federal law. 

In today’s 41-page injunction, US District Judge Harry Leinenweber found that Sessions had likely overstepped his authority in imposing the new rules.

The ruling has the power to impact at least seven cities and counties, as well as the state of California, that have defied the Justice Departments’ new rules. Philadelphia, San Francisco, and California have filed suits similar to Chicago’s.

The Associated Press has more details on the ruling:

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.

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.

Leinenweber also wrote that the city of Chicago’s immigrant communities could suffer “irreparable harm” if it followed the Trump administration’s policies on complying with ICE. “Once such trust is lost, it cannot be repaired through an award of money damages, making it the type of harm that is especially hard to rectify,” Leinenweber writes. According to the city’s attorneys, more than 30 other jurisdictions across the country, with $35 million in grants at stake, have filed briefs supporting Chicago’s lawsuit. 

The ruling is a second major blow to Republicans’ fight against sanctuary cities in recent weeks. Recently, a federal judge temporarily blocked key provisions of a Texas law banning sanctuary cities by forcing local police to cooperate with ICE.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate