08 August, 2017
The city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) Monday, claiming that a DOJ policy withholding federal funding to sanctuary cities is unconstitutional and constitutes blackmail.
"On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department published the application for the 2017 Byrne grants, and, unlike previous applications, this year's iteration requires cities to choose between strengthening our police department and the rights of Chicago's residents as a welcoming city", Emanuel said in a statement.
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle praised the city's decision to sue the Trump administration in a statement issued shortly after Emanuel's announcement.
On Monday, Chicago filed suit in federal court against Sessions, alleging that the new policy violates multiple provisions in the Constitution and federal law.
Supporters of "sanctuary city" policies say requiring local police to fully cooperate with immigration enforcement erodes with the communities they serve and frustrate law enforcement efforts.
"Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate", Chicago Mayor Ram Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune.
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Despite Chicago's sanctuary city status, the city's police are already allowed to share information with federal agents about undocumented immigrants who have prior felony convictions, pending felony prosecutions, or who are in the department's gang database. Chicago officials are waiting to hear whether Mr. Sessions plans to enforce a Justice Department investigation of the Chicago police, completed in the final days of Barack Obama's presidency, that found a pattern of discriminatory practices. Corporation Counsel said they hope to get an injunction that would prevent these new requirements from taking effect before the September 5 deadline to apply for those funds.
But Mayor Emanuel says he expects other major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco to join the legal fight in the near future.
Chicago argues the new conditions placed on the grant program "effectively federalize local detention facilities and violate the Fourth Amendment".
The grants at stake in Chicago, which the city has used in the past for stun guns, SWAT team equipment and police vehicles, make up a tiny fraction of the city budget. "It's especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago's law enforcement at greater risk".
One 2015 study from the American Immigration Council found that while the foreign-born population of the U.S. grew from 7.9% to 13.1% between 1990 and 2013, the violent crime rate declined 48%. "He's brought discipline, no doubt, to that effort", Emanuel said. He also wants immigration agents to have access to local jails.
Trump has targeted sanctuary cities as part of his promised crackdown on illegal immigration, and the Department of Justice implemented the new funding requirement last month.