Immigration and Citizenship

RELEASE: Echoing CAC Brief on Behalf of Members of Congress, Unanimous Court of Appeals Panel Holds Trump Administration Anti-Immigrant Policy Unlawful

The Seventh Circuit’s ruling in this case should hit the Trump Administration like a thunderclap.

Washington, DC — Following a unanimous ruling in City of Chicago v. Sessions by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit — with judges appointed by Presidents Ford, Reagan, and H.W. Bush voting to strike down the Trump Administration’s attempt to withhold anti-crime funding available under the Byrne JAG Act from the city of Chicago due to the city’s policy toward undocumented immigrants — Constitutional Accountability Center, which filed an amicus brief in support of Chicago on behalf of Members of Congress, issued the following reaction from CAC Civil Rights Director David Gans:

The Seventh Circuit’s ruling in this case should hit the Trump Administration like a thunderclap. In a unanimous opinion, three judges appointed by Republican Presidents voted to invalidate the Trump Administration’s effort to coerce state and local governments to adopt immigration policies preferred by the President, calling it a form of executive “tyranny,” and insisting on the duty of the courts to be “ever-vigilant” to “jealously guard[] the separation of powers.”

Echoing key arguments in our brief, the Court recognized that Congress never granted the Attorney General the power to impose conditions on Chicago’s ability to receive anti-crime grant funds, as Jeff Sessions tried to do here. The court also drove home the point that separation-of-powers principles embedded in the structure of the Constitution forbid the executive branch from imposing such new conditions on recipients of federal grants. As Judge Ilana Rovner, who authored the opinion of the Court, wrote, “[i]f the Executive Branch can determine policy, and then use the power of the purse to mandate compliance with that policy by state and local governments, all without authorization or even acquiescence by elected legislators,” a critical constitutional “check against tyranny is forsaken.”

This powerful ruling should send a clear signal that the Trump Administration’s pursuit of anti-immigrant policies has crossed fundamental lines not only of common decency, but also of bedrock principles that America’s founders hard-wired into our nation’s founding charter.



CAC brief on behalf of Members of Congress in support of Chicago in City of Chicago v. Sessions:


Now in our tenth year, Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit the new CAC website at


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