Chicago to Sue Justice Department over Threats to Withhold Funds to Sanctuary Cities

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing back against the federal government, as on Monday the city is filing suit against the Justice Department, which announced it would withhold millions of dollars in police grant money from so-called sanctuary cities, NPR reports.

Emanuel is suing because he says new rules for a federal crime-fighting grant go against the Constitution and the city’s values.

“Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate,” Emanuel says.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said grant applicants have to share information about undocumented immigrants to federal officials if they want the funding. But Emanuel says he refuses to choose between immigrant rights and having well-funded community police.

“We’re going to act immediately. To make sure that there’s a ruling by the court, as there’s been on other issues as relates to immigration and refugee policies — where the court has basically stopped the Trump administration in its tracks.” Emanuel says.

Chicago was expecting to get $3.2 million from the grant to help with crime fighting this year.

“The Department of Justice cannot commandeer local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration law functions. We cannot be forced to violate our residents’ constitutional rights.” says Ed Siskel, the city’s lawyer.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson also expressed concern about the application guidelines.

“Our job is to investigate crime, our job is not to investigate immigration status or documentation,” Johnson says.

Sessions sent letters to four other cities last week warning them that they also wouldn’t be eligible for funding: Baltimore, Albuquerque, N.M, and San Bernardino and Stockton in California. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.

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