Chicago sues Justice Department over sanctuary city crackdown

The suit is over plans to withhold public safety grants to so-called sanctuary cities.
Ed Siskel, attorney for the city of Chicago, discusses the lawsuit at Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago on Monday. Chicago Tribune (TNS)
Ed Siskel, attorney for the city of Chicago, discusses the lawsuit at Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago on Monday.Chicago Tribune (TNS)
Published August 8 2017

Chicago officials on Monday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department over a plan to withhold federal public safety grants to jurisdictions with so-called "sanctuary city" policies.

The lawsuit, announced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is the latest strike in an ongoing legal battle between the Trump administration and cities and counties that refuse to help detain and deport people who are in the country illegally.

The challenge centers on new rules attached to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, which provides money to local governments to buy police vehicles and other equipment. The new rules include a requirement that localities give federal immigration authorities open access to jails and notify them 48 hours in advance of plans to release an inmate wanted on an immigration detainer.

Filed in Northern Illinois District Court, the lawsuit argues that the requirements "federalize" local jails and violate the constitutional rights of inmates.

"Chicago will not be blackmailed into changing our values, and we are and will remain a welcoming City," Emanuel said in a statement late Sunday. "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."

The Justice Department responded sharply Monday.

"In 2016, more Chicagoans were murdered than in New York City and Los Angeles combined," Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley said in an email. "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."