U.S. appeals court rules against attempt to withhold funds from 'sanctuary' cities

By Ted Hesson

WASHINGTON, April 30 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday ruled against a administration attempt to withhold millions of dollars from so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

The decision, by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, upheld a pair of lower court rulings that blocked the administration from placing immigration-related conditions on law enforcement grants.

President Donald , who faces reelection on Nov. 3, has made immigration a central theme of his presidency and 2020 campaign. He frequently criticizes Democrat-controlled "sanctuary" jurisdictions for policies that he says protect criminal immigrants.

The decision follows 's remarks on Wednesday that suggested he might restrict coronavirus aid to states and cities with "sanctuary" policies.

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"If you're going to get aid to the cities and states for the kind of numbers you're talking about - billions of dollars - I don't think you should have sanctuary cities," told reporters at the White House.

The appeals court said the ruling would be applied nationwide, although one judge on a three-judge panel that considered the matter said he would have narrowed the scope to the city of Chicago, which brought the lawsuit.

Federal appeals courts have issued divergent rulings over 's attempts to restrict funding to "sanctuary" cities, setting up a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Reporting by Ted Hesson; Editing by Richard Chang)

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