Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces Lawsuit Against US Justice Department. (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America).
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken on the Trump administration’s immigration policies by filing a lawsuit on Monday. Setting a new precedent, Chicago is the first city to file a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice over efforts to block funding to sanctuary cities.
The lawsuit comprised of 46 pages—was filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, just one day after the mayor announced the litigation during a news conference at City Hall.
Emanuel said in an interview with CNN on Monday morning, that the DOJ’s new stipulations against so-called sanctuary cities, “undermines our actual safety agenda.”
Accompanied by the mayor were legal advisor and head of the City’s Legal Department Ed Siskel, and the Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who spoke about the importance of federal resources in combatting the city’s violence.
The first order of business—since the filing of the lawsuit, will be in asking a judge to place a freeze on the policy until the civil case plays out, according to Siskel. The request for a preliminary injunction could be made within days.
On August 3—the Justice Department released its application for the 2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), a program Chicago has used in the past for various public safety initiatives, including the purchase of police vehicles, SWAT equipment, radios, and Tasers according to Mayor Emanuel. Chicago has received grant funds since 2005, including $2.3 million in Byrne JAG funding last year.
The often blunt and outspoken mayor said in a released statement: “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,” he continued. “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 application for 2017, includes provisions requiring local governments, which grants the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the right to access any detention facility to inquire about the citizenship of anyone believed to be undocumented. The provision also grants federal authorities 48 hours advance notice before releasing anyone in violation of immigration laws, as conditions to receive funding.
The city of Chicago will defend its lawsuit by arguing that the Justice Department is not authorized to make grants contingent upon their stipulations because they would “effectively federalize local detention facilities” and violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by requiring detainees to be held beyond the timeframe in which they would otherwise be eligible for release.
The Justice department’s approach in requirements is part of the Trump administration’s efforts to clamp down on sanctuary cities—a term used for non-compliant jurisdictions with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants.
Of concern—the immigrants have been arrested on charges unrelated to their immigration status, but the jurisdictions are not turning the immigrants over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.
In January 2017, Trump signed an executive order to block federal grants to sanctuary cities, an action that a judge blocked in April, ruling that the president could not set new conditions on spending approved by Congress—an argument included in the City of Chicago’s lawsuit.
The judge, William H. Orrick of United States District Court, wrote that President Trump had overstepped his powers with his January executive order on immigration by tying billions of dollars in federal funding to immigration enforcement. Judge Orrick said only Congress could place such conditions on spending.
Despite the January ruling, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been intent on clamping down on immigration policies, most recently sending letters to four cities informing them they would be ineligible to receive resources under a new crime-fighting program unless their police departments show proof of compliance with the DOJ’s new rules.
In March, Sessions said sanctuary cities’ policies are “designed to frustrate the enforcement of our immigration laws” – a claim that Emanuel has refuted, repeatedly defending Chicago’s “Welcoming City” ordinance.
“Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance promotes public safety by ensuring that no city resident, regardless of their status, is afraid to cooperate with law enforcement, report criminal activity to the police, serve as a witness in court, or seek help as a victim of crime,” a spokesman for Emanuel said in a statement.
“I’ve always seen Chicago as a welcoming city,” Emanuel said in response to Sessions’ comments in March.
“It welcomed my grandfather 100 years ago, we continue to welcome entrepreneurs, immigrants, and I would just say think of it this way: Half the new businesses in Chicago and the state of Illinois come from immigrants, nearly half,” he added. “Half the patents at the University of Illinois come from immigrants, and so we want to continue to welcome people, welcome their ideas, welcome their families to the city of Chicago, who want to build the American dream for their children and their grandchildren.”
“Chicago was built on the back of immigrants, and our future is hitched to the wagon of immigrants who come to the city,” Emanuel continued. “I would say that the approach of penalizing cities, cities that are driving the economy, driving the energy of the United States – and they do it because we bring people of all different backgrounds to work together – that’s just the wrong approach.”
Chicago has been a sanctuary city since the 1980s, beefing up its policies in the past decade, particularly since Trump took office. The city is not alone in its immigration policies, as more than 200 jurisdictions nationwide have declared sanctuary status, including Los Angeles, New York City, and more, with some expected to follow Chicago filing lawsuits.
By LeNora Millen 08-07-17