Threat to 4 ‘sanc­tu­ary cities’ prompts law­suit

Chicago calls fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s bluff on deny­ing grants due to im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - as­so­ci­ated press

CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has an­nounced that the city is su­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in de­fense of its sta­tus as a so-called sanc­tu­ary city and against threats to with­hold U.S. grant funds.

Emanuel on Fri­day told “Con­nected to Chicago” on WLS-AM that the city would be in fed­eral court Mon­day ar­gu­ing that grants can’t be with­held from cities the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion says aren’t co­op­er­at­ing enough with U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cials. The in­ter­view airs Sun­day.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Ses­sions an­nounced last month that lo­cal gov­ern­ments would lose the money if they didn’t give ad­vance no­tice when im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally are about to be re­leased from cus­tody. He also wants im­mi­gra­tion agents to have ac­cess to lo­cal jails.

Of­fi­cials say Chicago is ex­pect­ing $3.2 mil­lion in Byrne Jus­tice As­sis­tance Grants this year, mostly for pur­chas­ing po­lice ve­hi­cles.

“We’re not going to ac­tu­ally auc­tion off our val­ues as a city, so Mon­day morn­ing the city of Chicago is going to court; we’re going to take the Jus­tice De­part­ment to court based on this,” Emanuel said. “We find it un­law­ful and un­con­sti­tu­tional to be, as a city, co­erced on a pol­icy.”

Ses­sions an­nounced last week that letters were sent to four cities strug­gling with gun vi­o­lence, telling them they will not be el­i­gi­ble for a pro­gram that pro­vides money to com­bat drug traf­fick­ing and gang crime un­less they fol­low through on his sug­ges­tions. The cities were Stock­ton, San Bernardino, Bal­ti­more and Al­bu­querque.

None of the four has de­clared it­self a “sanc­tu­ary city,” a term as­so­ci­ated with or­di­nances aimed at shield­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

In a let­ter to Ses­sions, Al­bu­querque Mayor Richard Berry, a Repub­li­can, de­nied his city was a sanc­tu­ary for peo­ple in the coun­try il­le­gally and said he had been try­ing to work with im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties since he took of­fice in 2009. Berry said Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment staffing at a prison trans­port cen­ter had fallen in re­cent years.

Chicago law pro­hibits po­lice from giv­ing ICE agents ac­cess to peo­ple in po­lice cus­tody un­less they are wanted on a crim­i­nal war­rant or have a se­ri­ous crim­i­nal con­vic­tion.

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 agency of­fi­cials about a per­son’s cus­tody sta­tus or re­lease date.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties say the pol­icy helps en­cour­age res­i­dents of the im­mi­grant com­mu­nity to in­form po­lice when they are vic­tims of crimes.

Matt Mar­ton As­so­ci­ated Press

CHICAGO MAYOR Rahm Emanuel, pic­tured ear­lier this year, said Fri­day: “We find it un­law­ful and un­con­sti­tu­tional to be, as a city, co­erced on a pol­icy.”

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