Court: Sessions can’t withhold sanctuary city funds

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 yesterday 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.”

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 plays out in court.

The city argued that it would suffer “irreparable harm” if it lost the funds that are earmarked to expand the city’s use of “ShotSpotter” technology to detect when someone fires a gun. And it has made a similar argument if the city were to follow the new requirements.

The judge agreed, saying, “The harm to the City’s relationship with the immigrant community if it should accede to the conditions is irreparable.”

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