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Legal Decision
Issued on September 15, 2017

Policy Summary

On Friday, September 15, Judge Harry D. Leinenweber, a federal Judge in Illinois, blocked the Justice Department from withholding federal money from sanctuary cities. Specifically, the preliminary injunction issued by Judge Leinenweber bars the DOJ from denying the Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, or JAG, funding to sanctuary cities, the leading federal grant providing state and local jurisdiction with financial assistance supporting law enforcement agencies. The ruling supports the City of Chicago’s lawsuit against the DOJ, which was filed on Monday, July 7 following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that sanctuary cities would be excluded from JAG funding in their refusal to work with federal immigration enforcement. In his ruling, Judge Leinenweber cited that this decision was unconstitutional, for Congress never explicitly authorized Sessions to implement new provisions to the grant.

Analysis

JAG funding is broad in scope, supporting program areas ranging from crime victim support and awareness to mental health and crisis intervention to technology, and more at the local and state level. Withholding these funds from major cities that are, to a certain extent, reliant upon the money in order to keep their communities safe is counter-intuitive and unwarranted. Sanctuary city policies do not encourage nor prevent police from seeking out illegal immigrants who may have committed crimes; rather, local law enforcement officials operating in sanctuary cities typically do not ask a person about his or her immigration status. Many local jurisdictions are in favor of these policies and have voiced concern about worsening community and law enforcement relations should these policies be blocked at the federal level. Both sanctuary cities and JAG funding are two important measures for keeping communities safe, and taking away funding from these jurisdictions will not serve to make America safe again.

Engagement Resources

  • Show Your Solidarity With the Immigrant Legal Resource Center: The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit resource center that provides immigration legal trainings, technical assistance, and educational materials, and engages in advocacy and immigrant civic engagement to advance immigrant rights. You can support the center by donating or attending one of their virtual or in-person trainings.
  • Take Action with the National Immigration Law Center: Since 1979, NILC has been exclusively dedicated to defending immigrants with low income. Through impact litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, and strategic communications, NILC advances the rights of those who came here in search of a better life. You can help NILC support sanctuary cities through utilizing its Sanctuary City Toolkit.
  • Get Involved With the American Civil Liberties Union: The ACLU is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” They have been actively involved in court cases challenging the Trump Administration on Immigration.

This brief was compiled by Allie Blum. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact allie@usresistnews.org.


 

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