The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) welcomes today’s federal court ruling that the U.S. Attorney General’s threat to withhold law enforcement funding from sanctuary cities has no basis in law.
The decision from the Northern District Court of Illinois, written by Reagan appointee Judge Harry D. Leinenweber, is another significant federal ruling blocking the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.
The City of Chicago sued the U.S. Department of Justice last month after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would cut federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program funding to cities and states that refuse to honor immigration detainers or have their local police act as immigration agents. The court found these conditions to be unlawful. At issue was Chicago’s 2012 Welcoming City Ordinance, which forbids the city’s police from inquiring about immigration status or detaining individuals for immigration purposes.
“Today’s ruling creates a critical roadblock to the administration’s persistent drive to enlist our local police in federal immigration enforcement,” said NIJC Associate Director of Litigation Mark Fleming. “As the City of Chicago has long recognized, and as our communities and elected officials acknowledged last month as Governor Rauner signed the TRUST Act into law, removing the fear that any interaction with the police could result in deportation is important to public safety and critical in building trust between communities and the police; that is what sanctuary city policies are all about.”
NIJC filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case describing Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance and the increase in similar sanctuary ordinances nationwide as a response to the U.S. government’s aggressive expansion of its immigration detainer program, which is rife with constitutional problems and detrimental to community policing.
“We appreciate the city’s willingness to challenge the administration to ensure that Chicago can continue to strive to be a welcoming city,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy.
With offices in Chicago, Indiana, and Washington, D.C., Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. Visit immigrantjustice.org and follow @NIJC.