Appeal court hears arguments in sanctuary-cities case

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CHICAGO  — Attorneys for the city of Chicago and the Justice Department made arguments in a federal court in Chicago this morning as the fight over funding for sanctuary cities continues.

Attorneys for the Trump administration asked the judge to reverse a lower-court ruling temporarily freezing its policy of withholding public-safety grants from sanctuary cities that don't fully enforce immigration laws.

The hearing at the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals focused on whether the administration exceeded its authority in setting new conditions not in legislation establishing the program. The case stems from a Chicago lawsuit.

"The Trump Justice Department has acted unlawfully and the harm that may flow from that is irreparable and in nationwide scope.  We hope that all of those findings will be upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals," said Ed Siskel, the attorney for the city of Chicago.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenwebber's freeze applies to all 50 states. The Trump administration says, at worst, it should only apply to Chicago.

In a related case, U.S. District Judge William Orrick in California in November blocked President Donald Trump's executive order nationwide that cut funds to sanctuary cities, saying Trump can't set new conditions on spending OK'd by Congress.