Chicago to Sue US Over Funding Threats Against 'Sanctuary Cities'

08 August 2017, 12:10 | Andres Norman

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In response to Emanuel's announcement, the Justice Department called the Chicago lawsuit "tragic". Chicago will never give up our status as the friendly city, " the mayor declared at a press conference.

Under the new instructions، police departments are required to inform federal officials of an illegal immigrant's release at least 48 hours in advance. "We're going to take the Justice Department to court based on this".

The Justice Department earlier this year sent letters to officials in so-called sanctuary cities, including Chicago, with a message: Provide immigration information on people arrested or lose federal funding.

However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in July that cities that do not comply with the Trump administration's policies of aggressively pursuing and deporting undocumented immigrants "make all of us less safe".

Local police are also barred from allowing ICE agents to use their facilities for interviews or investigations and from responding to ICE inquiries or talking to ICE officials about a person's custody status or release date.

The lawsuit came almost two weeks after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department would bar cities from the Byrne program unless they allowed immigration authorities unlimited access to local jails and give the 48 hours pre-release notice.

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In the past, Chicago has used Byrne JAG funds for the purchase of SWAT equipment, police vehicles, radios and tasers.

It is the latest round in a battle between several major US cities that opt to limit cooperation with federal government efforts to enforce immigration law and the Trump administration, with federal officials threatening for months to withhold funding for sanctuary cities, saying they don't comply with federal laws.

Siskel also said the city chose to file a lawsuit now, rather than after it had been denied a grant, because of the new conditions set last week.

"The Department of Justice can not commandeer local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration law functions", said Ed Siskel, the city's lawyer. Two law firms are representing the city free. Opponents argue the federal government is essentially trying to deputize local law enforcement and that everyday policing is made more hard when people are afraid to talk to the officers for fear their immigration status will be uncovered.

Chicago is the first sanctuary city to challenge the new rules, although Chicago officials have apparently been in contact with other sanctuary cities over launching the suit, but Trump's Executive Order addressing sanctuary city funding has already faced legal trouble: last month, a judge refused to revisit a decision blocking the order, in a case filed by San Francisco and the California county of Santa Clara.

"Section 1373 does not specifically address restrictions by state or local entities on cooperation with ICE regarding detainers".



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