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AG Jeff Sessions bashes Rahm Emanuel in sanctuary city speech

Attorney General Jeff Sessions | Matt Rourke/AP

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is escalating its attacks on Chicago’s “political leadership,” with Attorney General Jeff Sessions slamming the city’s “sanctuary” status in a Miami speech on Wednesday.

“The leaders in Chicago have made this a political issue,” Sessions said, his second punch in a week against Mayor Rahm Emanuel — though he did not use his name in his speech.

In announcing the speech, the Justice Department flagged the Chicago hit, stating in a release that Sessions will “take on Chicago political leadership in today’s sanctuary policies speech.”

This is highly unusual — making a political attack on a mayor, even if not by name — a week after the City of Chicago sued Sessions in federal court over the administration’s bid to cut crime fighting funds to local governments shielding illegal immigrants from immigration agents. The litigation is pending.

The theme of the speech, according to the Justice Department is “on the growing trend of violent crime in sanctuary cities.” However, there is no known connection between illegal immigrants in Chicago and the city’s ongoing struggle to control violent crime.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, “In a week in which the Trump administration is being forced to answer questions about neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK, they could not have picked a worse time to resume their attack on the immigrants who see America as a beacon of hope. Chicago will continue to stand up proudly as a welcoming city, and we will not cave to the Trump administration’s pressure because they are wrong morally, wrong factually and wrong legally.”

Sessions’ speech excerpts released by the Justice Department said, “The most fundamental duty of government is to ensure the safety and liberty of its people.

“Respect for the rule of law has broken down. In Chicago, their so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies are just one sad example.

“That makes a sanctuary city a trafficker, smuggler, or predator’s best friend.

“I know that Miami-Dade will be an example of the good that comes from following the law. We have already seen that: the same Independence Day weekend when Chicago suffered more than 100 shootings and 15 homicides, Miami-Dade also had an historic number of shooting deaths — zero.”

Sessions will be joined in Miami by the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tom Homan.