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Federal court denies Chicago's request for further injunction in 'sanctuary city' funding case

[JURIST] The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] on Thursday denied [order, PDF] the City of Chicago's motion for reconsideration of an earlier order granting partial injunction of a federal law enforcement grant program.

The dispute stems from the City's receipt of federal funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program [official materials], which provides state, tribal, and municipal law enforcement agencies with funding. Eligibility for 2017 Byrne JAG grants has been conditioned [official materials] on local governments' level of cooperation with federal immigration officials based on three factors: notice, access, and compliance.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] expressed concern that the City of Chicago's Welcoming City Ordinance violates 8 U.S.C. § 1373 [text], a law that prohibits restrictions on communication between federal immigration agencies, and state and local agencies regarding the immigration statuses of individuals. Chicago was among ten jurisdictions that received a letter [text, PDF] from the DOJ seeking verification of compliance with §1373 as a condition of eligibility for the Byrne JAG program.

Chicago brought suit [complaint, PDF] in August, seeking to have the immigration-related conditions of the 2017 Byrne JAG program declared unlawful and enjoining the DOJ from enforcing them. After Chicago moved to prevent enforcement as the case proceeded, the court granted [opinion, PDF] a preliminary injunction only for the notice and access condition, but not for compliance requirement. Hoping to obtain a full injunction, Chicago moved for a partial reconsideration [motion, PDF] on the compliance factor.

The district court disagreed with Chicago's assertion that the DOJ's letter imposed new affirmative obligations, and denied the requested relief. In particular, the court found that a motion for reconsideration falls under Rule 59 [text] of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and success depends on, among other things, showing that newly discovered evidence was "material" and "would probably produce a new result." Reasoning that the DOJ's letter did not represent a definitive ruling of ineligibility for Byrne JAG funds and was was merely informative in nature, the court held that these requirements were not met.

Notably, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania [official website] granted a request for a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] on enforcement of the compliance provisions of the 2017 Byrne JAG program as it applies to the City of Philadelphia on the same day as the Northern District of Illinois refused such relief.

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