Sanctuary cities across the United States scored a small victory earlier this week when the city of Chicago was able to secure a nationwide injunction stopping the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions from withholding public safety grants from certain cities in the U.S. The Attorney General had previously vowed to withhold public safety grants from cities that refused to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement in deporting undocumented immigrants. This was in keeping with an earlier promise by the Trump Administration to strip away public service grant money from sanctuary cities.
Having local police help to deport undocumented immigrants would speed up immigration efforts by the federal government. This is because federal authorities would get notified sooner if an undocumented person was arrested for a criminal offense, and then detained. Federal authorities could also require local police office to hold the immigrant in order for federal authorities to come and pick him or her up for deportation.
Sanctuary cities’ refusal to cooperate with the federal government on deporting undocumented immigrants stems from the argument that providing such assistance would affect the trust the immigrant community has in the police. In granting the injunction, the court recognized that this community trust is a valid concern that cannot be easily regained if the cities were forced to comply with the federal government.
The judge made the injunction a nationwide injunction even though it was the city of Chicago filing the lawsuit because these issues affect cities throughout the country. Therefore, the injunction on withholding funds from Chicago would apply to cities in California, as well.
The nationwide injunction does not mean that the battle is over. The injunction only stops the Attorney General from withholding funds while a lawsuit is pending to determine whether the Attorney General does have the authority to take such action. Whenever that decision is made, the injunction may be lifted or become permanent. If the injunction is lifted, some cities may choose to comply with the requirement to coordinate and assist federal immigration officials in deporting people in order to get the grants.
Right now, this decision does not change anything in terms of the federal government’s ability to enforce federal immigration law by deporting undocumented immigrants. Therefore, if the federal government is able to track an undocumented immigrant without relying on the assistance of local police, the federal officers will arrest the person and begin deportation proceedings. There are expected to be several immigration related laws enacted during the Trump Administration’s tenure. How these laws may affect immigrants in the long term is yet to be determined.
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If you are an undocumented immigrant seeking to legalize your presence in the U.S., you should speak to an experienced immigration attorney to learn about your options. If you have been in the United States for some time, or if you are married to a U.S. citizen, you may have options to legalize your status. For more information on how you can fight deportation, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California and schedule a consultation.