Following President Trump’s Russia-related public tirade against Jeff Sessions last month, the attorney general tried to get back in his good graces by threatening so-called sanctuary cities. The new Justice Department rules said that in order to qualify for a federal grant for local law enforcement, cities must give federal immigration authorities access to police stations and to provide notice 48 hours before releasing someone suspected of an immigration violation.
Supposedly Sessions is safe for now, but on Monday he got another opportunity to impress the boss when Chicago sued Sessions, arguing that the Justice Department’s “sweeping conditions” for the grant are “unauthorized and unconstitutional.” In the lawsuit, Chicago said the new rules “fly in the face of longstanding city policy that promotes cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.”
Sessions responded by attacking one of the president’s favorite targets: Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. “No amount of federal taxpayer dollars will help a city that refuses to help its own residents,” Sessions said. “To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country’s lawful immigration system.”
More than 400 people have been killed in Chicago this year, and Sessions went on to suggest this is the result of the “culture of lawlessness” created by local officials.
“They have demonstrated an open hostility to enforcing laws designed to protect law enforcement — federal, state and local — and reduce crime, and instead have adopted an official policy of protecting criminal aliens who prey on their own residents,” Sessions continued. “The city’s leaders cannot follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve.”
Emanuel and local police officials say they do not inquire about people’s immigration status because it’s more important to have undocumented immigrants who are willing to cooperate with investigations.
“Undocumented immigrants are not driving violence in Chicago, and that’s why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be the immigration police,” responded Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Several municipalities already sued over a Trump executive order that was meant to crack down on sanctuary cities. A federal judge blocked that order, but the case is ongoing. It seems likely that other cities will join Chicago in challenging the Trump administration’s efforts to make local police assist federal immigration officers.