Chicago, IL, will sue the Justice Department over its continued threats to defund sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with its demands, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Sunday. During a press conference, Emanuel accused the Sessions-led Department of “blackmailing” Chicago into changing its values.
“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 in a statement. “The City of Chicago will continue to stand up to President Trump and his Justice Department to ensure that their misguided policies do not threaten the safety of our residents.”
The lawsuit, which will be filed on Monday according to Emanuel, takes aim at Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s newly released federal funding guidelines requiring cities to share information with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Specifically, two weeks ago, Sessions announced that in order to receive crime-fighting assistance through the Justice Assistance Grant program, cities must give ICE unlimited access to detention facilities, alert immigration authorities when suspects are released, and share immigration status information with federal authorities.
Sessions’s demands quite obviously targeted sanctuary cities; they are are unconstitutional according to Emanel and Chicago’s Counsel, Ed Siskel. In addition to undermining Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance, Sessions’s demands violate the Fourth Amendment. ICE requests to be alerted when local police departments release detainees requires that they be held for 48 hours, longer than the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
“We are filing this suit because the Attorney General does not have the authority to add these requirements to a grant program created by Congress and cannot commandeer local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration law functions,” said Siskel. “We are asking the court to ensure that we are not forced to either forego critical grant funds or agree to new conditions, which violate the Constitution and our Welcoming City ordinance.”
Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance remains federally legal but prioritizes local law enforcement and crime prevention over federal immigration issues. Chicago, in particular, would lose much needed funds if Sessions orders are found to be constitutional. Last year the city received $2.3 million in federal funding to fight its violent gun and homicide epidemic. According to the Justice Department, Chicago’s homicide rate is higher than New York City and Los Angeles combined.
The Justice Department’s spokeswoman responded to Chicago’s lawsuit with an especially salty statement. “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.”
Chicago joins a long list of cities that are taking Sessions to court over his anti-immigrant funding requirements.