A federal appeals court in Chicago on Thursday upheld an injunction blocking the Justice Department from requiring that local law enforcement agencies comply with federal immigration rules if they wanted to receive federal grant money.
The three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit—all of whom are Republican appointees—ruled against a Trump administration policy that would deny public safety grants to so-called sanctuary cities that limit how local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration officials.
The city of Chicago filed the lawsuit last August after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a plan that would bar cities from getting grants unless they let immigration agents access local jails.
Thursday’s ruling is just the latest blow to the Trump’s administration plan to limit funds to sanctuary cities.
In September of last year, U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber (who was appointed by Ronald Reagan) ruled Sessions could not deny grants to Chicago and other sanctuary cities.
In November, District Judge William H. Orrick also declared that a section of an executive order that limited funds to sanctuary cities was unconstitutional.
In Thursday’s ruling, the GOP-appointed judges issued a strong rebuke to the administration.
“The Attorney General in this case used the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote. “But the power of the purse rests with Congress, which authorized the federal funds at issue and did not impose any immigration enforcement conditions on the receipt of such funds. It falls to us, the judiciary, as the remaining branch of the government, to act as a check on such usurpation of power.”