- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2018

The Trump administration suffered another legal defeat on its sanctuary city crackdown after a judge Friday permanently blocked the government from retaliating against Chicago’s sanctuary policy by stripping away its police grant money.

U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber, a Reagan appointee to the bench, said the administration is free to track down illegal immigrants on its own, but it cannot force Chicago to cooperate in reporting or turning them over.

His ruling follows similar defeats for the Trump administration in California and Philadelphia, where judges have also ruled against the administration’s attempts to condition Byrne Justice Assistance Grant money on better cooperation on immigration.

“Chicago’s compliance with the conditions would damage local law enforcement’s relationship with immigrant communities and decrease the cooperation essential to prevent and solve crimes both within those communities and Chicago at large,” the judge wrote. “Trust once lost is not easily restored.”

The ruling confirms an earlier, preliminary decision that had found the government overstepped its powers.

Sanctuary cities have exploded in number since President Trump took office, as states and localities competed with each other to try to protect illegal immigrants from a stepped-up enforcement policy at the national level.

While the policies vary, at root they attempt to shield illegal immigrants from coming into the purview of federal authorities by restricting cooperation between local police and federal officers and agents.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had sought to push back, saying certain government grants would now depend on jurisdictions agreeing to share information on illegal immigrants in their care, and to give deportation officers access to local prisons and jails to be able to safely take custody of criminal migrants.

Judges have ruled that those conditions go beyond what Congress set in law, and that the executive branch cannot add them.

In an earlier ruling Judge Leinenweber had imposed a nationwide halt to the Sessions policy, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has narrowed that, after some chiding by the Supreme Court. That means Friday’s ruling only applies, for now, to Chicago.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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