A sharply worded ruling by a federal appeals court in Chicago on Thursday said the Trump administration policy of threatening to withhold grant money from so-called sanctuary cities to force them to comply with its immigration policies violates separation-of-powers provisions enshrined in the Constitution. The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals also said a freeze of that policy should extend nationwide, rejecting arguments by Department of Justice lawyers that if an injunction were approved in the case it should only apply to the city of Chicago. Broad executive branch powers on immigration don't include withholding money allocated by the legislative branch to pressure cities and states to comply with an executive branch policy, said Judge Ilana Rovner, who authored the 95-page ruling, the AP reports.
"Such a concentration of power," she said, "would allow tyranny to flourish."
Congress established the main grant at issue to help local law enforcement buy equipment, including body cameras and bulletproof vests. But Rovner wrote that the Trump administration was wielding the grant "as a hammer to further a completely different policy of the executive branch." Mayor Lori Lightfoot called it "a great victory, not only for Chicago, but for our immigrant and refugee communities everywhere in the country." The city prohibits police from providing federal immigration and customs officials access to people in police custody, unless they are wanted on a criminal warrant or have serious criminal convictions.
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