Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday blasted the “political leadership of Chicago” and “the culture of lawlessness that has beset the city” just hours after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration sued Sessions to bar him from cutting federal crimefighting funds to sanctuary cities.
Rather than take a hands-off approach to the now-pending litigation, Sessions stepped up attacks on Chicago, the city that has been repeatedly bashed by President Donald Trump because of its ongoing problems with controlling crime.
“To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country’s lawful immigration system,” Sessions said in a prepared statement. “They have demonstrated an open hostility to enforcing laws designed to protect law enforcement — federal, state, and local — and reduce crime, and instead have adopted an official policy of protecting criminal aliens who prey on their own residents.
“This is astounding given the unprecedented violent crime surge in Chicago, with the number of murders in 2016 surpassing both New York and Los Angeles combined. The city’s leaders cannot follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve.
“The mayor complains that the federal government’s focus on enforcing the law would require a ‘reordering of law enforcement practice in Chicago.’ But that’s just what Chicago needs: a recommitment to the rule of law and to policies that roll back the culture of lawlessness that has beset the city.”
Though the Trump administration has attempted to link sanctuary-city status to the city’s crime problem, the Chicago Sun-Times has reported that illegal immigrants have played no role in the overwhelming majority of the murders that have put the city in the national spotlight.
“I have been a police officer for more than 30 years, and the federal government’s plans will hamper community policing and public safety,” Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in response to Sessions. “Undocumented immigrants are not driving violence in Chicago, and that’s why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be the immigration police.”
With the filing of the lawsuit against Sessions, Chicago becomes the fourth city to wage a legal battle against the Trump administration bid to cut the crimefighting grants to sanctuary local governments.
Other lawsuits to block the Justice Department from punishing cities shielding illegal immigrants from federal immigration agents have been filed in federal courts in Seattle, and in California: Santa Clara and San Francisco.
And while each has its own unique facts and circumstances, Chicago’s legal team is tapped in to the loose network of lawyers that has formed for many of these sanctuary cities.
“We are in regular contact with lawyers in cities and counties around the country related to these issues,” city Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel said – including from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Chicago’s 46-page complaint asks U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber — assigned to the case Monday — to stop the Justice Department from enforcing new conditions it has attached to the grant funds.
The city appears to be making a solid legal case, according to two experts from the University of Chicago Law School: Professor Aziz Huq and Assistant Professor Daniel Hemel. Both pointed out that, according to the city’s lawsuit, Congress did not give the Justice Department the power to create new conditions when it created the grant program.
The Justice Department in recent days detailed the new rule and conditions sanctuary jurisdictions must follow. The first condition would require the city to give the feds, when they ask for it, a 48-hour heads up of the scheduled release date and time “of an alien in the jurisdiction’s custody.”
The second would require the city to give the feds access to “any correctional or detention facility in order to meet with an alien . . . and inquire as to his or her right to be or remain in the United States.” However, the city points out in its lawsuit that Chicago does not have a jail — only 18 temporary police “lockup” facilities.
The city claims the Justice Department is also asking it to again certify its compliance with a federal law barring local governments from not sharing immigration status information with the feds. It is asking to the city to do so “under the cloud of confusion” created by the new grant conditions, the city is alleging.