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Durbin on sanctuary: Chicago cops not ‘immigration officials’

Sen. Dick Durbin, in an interview with on CNN's “State of the Union,” said Chicago should remain a sanctuary city despite the Justice Department crackdown. | Sun-Times file photo

With the Justice Department taking steps to cut some federal funds from Chicago and other sanctuary cities, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Sunday, “We are not going to turn our local police departments into immigration officials.”

Durbin, in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” said Chicago should remain a sanctuary city despite the Justice Department crackdown.

And on the potential of a government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s insistence on border wall funding included in a spending bill that must be passed by Friday, Durbin said, “It’s a political stunt, an obsession for the president that should not shut down our government.”

Last Friday, the Justice Department sent letters to Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and officials in several states saying some federal crime-fighting grants may be cut off if these jurisdictions continue with sanctuary status after June 30.

Durbin, asked “as the senator from Illinois, do you want Chicago to remain a sanctuary city, even if it means losing federal funding,” replied that shielding illegal immigrants does not lead to “law and order.”

“I wish that Attorney General Sessions, as well as members of the Trump administration, would do what I have done, sit down with the police chiefs, ask them point blank, ‘What is the most important thing we can do to maintain law and order and to cooperate with the people who are responsible for keeping our community safe?'” Durbin said.

“And they will tell you that this notion of threatening those who are here undocumented is going to cut off sources of information which people use every day in police departments to keep us safe.

“If you want to have a law-and-order presidency, speak to the police departments and chiefs who have this responsibility. They will tell you that cutting off funding for cities that are trying to work with all of the population to keep the city safe is exactly the wrong thing to do,” Durbin said.

“What Chicago does, and every city does, is to share information when they arrest people, fingerprints, for example, with the FBI, so that they can check the backgrounds of individuals,” he added.

“But, listen, we have an important responsibility in Chicago and every other city to keep people safe. And we are not going to turn our local police departments into immigration officials.

Said Durbin, “I think we can work with the federal government, but we’re not going to do this at the expense of people who are living peaceable lives in neighborhoods and raising families and should not be harassed by folks who are trying to push some sort of anti-immigration agenda in Washington.”