The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it is distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money that had been stymied by a federal court in Chicago. In 2017, the Trump announced in 2017 that federal grants to cities for law enforcement purposes were conditioned by those localities’ willingness to cooperate in detaining illegal immigrants upon request by federal immigration officers. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cracked down on so-called sanctuary cities. Those that prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from entering prisons and jails, he said, would lose Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, or JAG grants.
The city of Chicago sued the federal government, claiming that the Trump administration’s conditions were not backed by federal law. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber granted the Windy City’s demand for a temporary nationwide injunction the conditions placed on the new JAG grants. In April 2018, a three-judge panel in April agreed with Leinenweber.
As a result, the Trump administration put nearly $200 million in 2017 Byrne grants on hold while the court case proceeded. The Byrne Justice Assistance Grants are used by police departments to pay for equipment, training, personnel or other law enforcement needs. However, on Tuesday the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals modified the earlier ruling and said that the district court was authorized to decide on the fate of grants for Chicago, it could not prevent the release of Byrne grants to the rest of the United States. A full appeals court will hear oral arguments on Sept. 6.
"The stay of the nationwide injunction granted last night by the Seventh Circuit is another major victory for the rule of law,” said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley on Wednesday. “After the stay was granted, the Justice Department promptly moved to begin the distribution of nearly $200 million in Byrne JAG funds to jurisdictions that share the Department's commitment to keeping criminal aliens off our streets and our law abiding citizens safe. Reviews of some applications remain ongoing,” he said.