President Trump’s effort to punish cities that don’t cooperate with the administration’s roundup of undocumented immigrants was dealt another blow Friday when a federal judge in Illinois said the U.S. Justice Department can’t withhold public safety funds to these communities.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber marks at least a tentative victory for sanctuary cities, including San Francisco and several other places that have refused to assist with the federal government’s deportation push. In April, the cities won a similar verdict when a California judge ruled that much broader funding cuts to such communities was an overreach of power.
Friday’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed by Chicago officials. The suit challenged new terms on federal law enforcement grants that require local officials to notify federal authorities about undocumented people in their jails and provide immigration officials with access.
Leinenweber, who said the requirements were again an overstepping of federal authority, blocked the conditions not only in the Chicago case but across the country. The ruling is “nationwide in scope,” he wrote, “there being no reason to think that the legal issues present in this case are restricted to Chicago.”
The finding was well received in San Francisco, where city officials have led the charge for sanctuary policies and have filed a near-identical lawsuit over the terms of the law enforcement grants. The city also filed an earlier suit that led to the April ruling against the Justice Department.
“We applaud the court’s decision,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “The Trump administration is playing politics with public safety. Once again they are trying an end-run around the Constitution, and once again the courts have said no.”