The City of Chicago on Monday followed through with its threat to sue the Department of Justice (DoJ) over its proposal to cut funding to ‘sanctuary cities,’ municipalities which do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they detain undocumented aliens. On Sunday its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, revealed that the city would not be blackmailed by the Trump administration.
Although the sums at stake are relatively small – $3.2 million this year – Emanuel said that a positive legal outcome would stop the Trump administration from setting a precedent that could be expanded to other types of funding.
Last month, the DoJ announced that new immigration-compliance measures would need to be adhered to in order to qualify for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program, a federal crime-prevention grant. The new requirements include increased information sharing between federal, state, and local law enforcement. Last year, $347 million were disbursed to state and local governments.
“Chicago will not be blackmailed into changing our values and we are – and will remain – a welcoming city. The federal government should be working with cities to provide necessary resources to improve public safety, not concocting new schemes to reduce our crime-fighting resources,” Emanuel said on Sunday.
The DoJ criticized Emanuel on Sunday accusing him of prioritizing illegal immigrants over law-abiding U.S. citizens.
“In 2016, more Chicagoans were murdered than in New York City and Los Angeles combined. So 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,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Data published by the Chicago Police Department show that over 400 homicides were committed in the city between January 1 and July 30 this year. Around 1,700 shooting incidents were recorded over the same period
Chicago law currently bars local police from processing ICE inquiries as well as disclosing an individual’s custody status or their planned release date to the federal-law enforcement agency. In addition, federal agents can only be granted access to people in custody if a criminal warrant has been issued for their arrest or if they have been convicted of serious crimes.
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois specifically names Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the defendant.