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Chicago court rules against suspending Justice Dept 'sanctuary cities' policy

Chicago court rules against suspending Justice Dept 'sanctuary cities' policy
© Camille Fine

A Chicago district court ruled against a motion by city attorneys to suspend a Justice Department policy that would refuse law enforcement grants to cities that don't comply with federal immigration laws.

Judge Harry Leinenweber wrote Thursday that such an injunction would be premature, given that the Justice Department has yet to deny a grant to a U.S. city.

"Although Chicago argues that the DOJ letter 'staked out a final view' on Section 1373, this does not change the fact that DOJ has yet to determine about Chicago's eligibility for funds," the judge wrote in his decision.

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"Litigating a policy position based on a preliminary assessment is premature, and this Court will not do so," he added.

Chicago is one of many cities across the countries that considers itself a sanctuary city. 

The ruling comes a day after a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled that the department can’t withhold funding from the city because it refuses to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration enforcement.

Philadelphia should be able to "deal with local issues as it sees best," wrote Judge Michael Baylson on Wednesday in a 128-page ruling. 

The Justice Department celebrated Thursday's ruling in a statement.

“The Justice Department is pleased that the District Court has once again found that conditioning our law enforcement grants on compliance with Section 1373 is lawful. The Department is now one step closer to distributing law enforcement funds to cooperating jurisdictions, as unnecessary litigation—like the motion properly denied today—has delayed that process," agency spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement.