Chicago asks for halt to ‘sanc­tu­ary city’ de­mands

Im­mi­gra­tion rules could cost cities mil­lions in grants.

The Palm Beach Post - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Don Babwin

CHICAGO — At­tor­neys for Chicago on Mon­day asked a fed­eral judge for a na­tion­wide halt to Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­quire­ments that cities en­force tough im­mi­gra­tion laws in or­der to re­ceive some fed­eral grants, stak­ing out a lead­er­ship role for the na­tion’s third largest city in the fight over so-called sanc­tu­ary cities.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pro­claimed the city a sanc­tu­ary for im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally and has refused to allow im­mi­gra­tion po­lice ac­cess to city jails with­out a war­rant. Last month Chicago sued the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over the new rules.

Dur­ing a court hear­ing Mon­day, at­tor­neys ar­gued over whether At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions has the author­ity to bar Chicago from re­ceiv­ing fed­eral grants to buy po­lice equip­ment if it re­fuses to share in­for­ma­tion about peo­ple in cus­tody who may be in the coun­try il­le­gally.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Harry Leinen­we­ber did not rule Mon­day on the city’s re­quest for a “na­tion­wide in­junc­tion” and did not say when he might de­cide. At stake is Chicago’s re­quest for $2.2 mil­lion in fed­eral funds — $1.5 mil­lion for the city and the rest for Cook County and 10 other sub­urbs.

Chicago is lead­ing the charge for cities and coun­ties across the coun­try. More than 30 ju­ris­dic­tions filed court briefs sup­port­ing Chicago’s suit, and have up to $35 mil­lion in grants at stake. At least seven cities and coun­ties, in­clud­ing Seat­tle and San Fran­cisco, as well as the state of Cal­i­for­nia, are re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate with the new fed­eral rules.

Ses­sions wants lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to give “where prac­ti­ca­ble” 48 hours no­tice be­fore re­leas­ing from cus­tody any­one fed­eral agents sus­pect of be­ing in the United States il­le­gally, and re­quire the agents ac­cess to lo­cal jails.

The court ar­gu­ments boiled down to whether Ses­sions has the author­ity to with­hold the grant money.

“Congress man­dated that the At­tor­ney Gen­eral SHALL al­lo­cate (the funds); It does not give him the author­ity not to do this,” at­tor­ney for Chicago Ron­ald Safer said.

Safer ar­gued that ty­ing the grant money to an agree­ment to com­ply would dam­age the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the im­mi­grant com­mu­nity and a po­lice de­part­ment that re­lies on the public to solve crimes.

He also told the judge that if he rules in fa­vor of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, it would set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent that could ul­ti­mately give the ad­min­is­tra­tion the power to tie funds to the city’s will­ing­ness to send po­lice of­fi­cers to the Mex­i­can border to help build the wall Trump wants to build.

But Chad Readler, act­ing as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral for the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s civil di­vi­sion, said Ses­sions is well within his rights to place spe­cial con­di­tions on such grant money, adding that cities al­ready had to meet more than 50 spe­cial con­di­tions, in­clud­ing com­pli­ance with civil rights laws to re­ceive grants in 2016.

“The at­tor­ney gen­eral has final author­ity on all grants is­sued by the de­part­ment,” he said. When Chicago agreed, for ex­am­ple, to take fed­eral funds for body ar­mor for po­lice of­fi­cers it ac­cepted the con­di­tion that of­fi­cers wear the body ar­mor, Readler said.

Readler said Chicago has the op­tion to refuse to com­ply with the new im­mi­gra­tion reg­u­la­tions and fund the ini­tia­tives it­self.

Chicago has re­ceived the public safety grants since 2005, us­ing the $33 mil­lion to pur­chase po­lice ve­hi­cles and equip­ment. The city re­ceived $2.3 mil­lion last year.

City law de­part­ment spokesman Bill McCaffrey said the new rules do not ap­ply to grants al­ready re­ceived. He said it is un­clear when the city might re­ceive the grant money that Ses­sions has threat­ened to with­hold. Typ­i­cally, the city ap­plies for the money by early June and re­ceives the money by the end of Septem­ber. But this year, the city ap­plied Aug. 31 af­ter the dead­line was pushed back to Sept. 5.

BRIAN CASSELLA / CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel an­nounces a law­suit against the Trump Jus­tice De­part­ment over with­hold­ing fund­ing for sanc­tu­ary cities, Aug. 6. City at­tor­neys on Mon­day ar­gued for a na­tion­wide in­junc­tion of the rules.

EVANDRO INETTI / TNS

Pope Fran­cis tells re­porters that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump “should un­der­stand that the fam­ily is the cradle of life and you must de­fend its unity.”

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