Chicago sues Trump over crack­down

Sanc­tu­ary city for mi­grants de­fi­ant

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

CHICAGO is su­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump over threats to with­hold pub­lic safety grant money from so-called sanc­tu­ary ci­ties, es­ca­lat­ing a push­back against a fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion crack­down, Mayor Rahm Emanuel an­nounced.

The fed­eral law­suit comes less than two weeks af­ter At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions said that the Jus­tice Depart­ment would bar ci­ties from a cer­tain grant pro­gramme un­less they al­low im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties un­lim­ited ac­cess to lo­cal jails and pro­vide 48 hours’ no­tice be­fore re­leas­ing any­one wanted for im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions.

“Chicago will not let our po­lice of­fi­cers be­come po­lit­i­cal pawns in a de­bate,” Emanuel, a Demo­crat, said at a news con­fer­ence.

“Chicago will not let our res­i­dents have their fun­da­men­tal rights iso­lated and vi­o­lated. And Chicago will never re­lin­quish our sta­tus as a wel­com­ing city.”

Ed­ward Byrne Memo­rial Jus­tice As­sis­tance Grants pro­vide money to hun­dreds of ci­ties, and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­quested $380 mil­lion (R5 bil­lion) in fund­ing next year.

Chicago, a reg­u­lar tar­get of Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump be­cause of its mur­der rate, ex­pected to re­ceive $3.2m this year for buy­ing equip­ment.

Emanuel said the law­suit would pre­vent the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion from set­ting a prece­dent that could be used to tar­get other fund­ing.

Un­der Trump and Ses­sions, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has sought to crack down on sanc­tu­ary ci­ties, which gen­er­ally of­fer il­le­gal im­mi­grants safe har­bour by de­clin­ing to use mu­nic­i­pal re­sources to en­force fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws. Dozens of lo­cal gov­ern­ments and ci­ties, in­clud­ing New York, Los An­ge­les and Chicago, have joined the grow­ing sanc­tu­ary move­ment.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment said more Chicagoans had been mur­dered last year than res­i­dents of Los An­ge­les and New York com­bined, and cited com­ments by Ses­sions last week say­ing sanc­tu­ary ci­ties “make all of us less safe”.

Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman Sarah Is­gur Flores ac­cused Emanuel of “spend­ing time and tax­pay­ers’ money pro­tect­ing crim­i­nal aliens and put­ting Chicago’s law en­force­ment at greater risk”.

Re­searchers in the US have found no link be­tween in­creased im­mi­gra­tion and higher crime rates. In­deed, many stud­ies have found that crime rates among im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tions are lower than those among the host pop­u­la­tion.

In ad­di­tion, po­lice and city of­fi­cials in sanc­tu­ary ci­ties have said that de­port­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants who are not ac­cused of se­ri­ous crimes harms pub­lic safety by dis­cour­ag­ing im­mi­grants from com­ing for­ward to re­port crimes.

Chicago’s law­suit is the first to chal­lenge the depart­ment over the Byrne pro­gramme, although city of­fi­cials said they were in con­tact with other ci­ties. Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra is con­sid­er­ing a sim­i­lar law­suit.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has al­ready faced le­gal bat­tles over its sanc­tu­ary city poli­cies. Last month, a US judge re­fused to re­visit a court order that blocked Trump’s Jan­uary ex­ec­u­tive order deny­ing broader fed­eral funds to such ju­ris­dic­tions.

PIC­TURE: AP

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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