Chicago (AFP) – The federal appeals court in Chicago on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to punish so-called “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants.
The court ruled that the Justice Department could not deny certain federal funding to cities like Chicago which resist cooperating in the department’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
Since last year, the department has sought to punish cities, states and other jurisdictions which allow local law enforcement authorities, when they detain an illegal immigrant, to release them without first giving federal immigration agents access to them.
President Donald Trump has accused such sanctuary cities of allowing hardened criminals in the country illegally to go free, and has ordered federal authorities to take action against them.
In the setback for Trump’s policy, the Chicago appeals court ruled that if funds are apportioned by Congress in its budgeting power, the Justice Department does not have the right to deny them to certain jurisdictions to force its own policies on them.
“We are a country that jealously guards the separation of powers, and we must be ever‐vigilant in that endeavor,” the court ruled.
In a statement, Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley sharply criticized the decision.
“We will continue to fight to carry out the Department’s commitment to the rule of law, protecting public safety, and keeping criminal aliens off the streets to further perpetrate crimes,” he said.