Amid an ongoing legal battle over federal law enforcement grants held back last year over sanctuary city policies, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city of Chicago are set to file another lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump Department of Justice over funds withheld this year.
City Law Department officials said they planned to file suit Friday, accusing the feds of once again tying this year’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants — a leading source of federal crime-fighting funding — to “new and unlawful” immigration enforcement requirements.
“Instead of inviting lawsuits and attacking immigrants, the Trump DOJ should immediately stop placing illegal conditions on these grants, quit withholding grant funding, and allow Chicago to use these grants to improve public safety,” Emanuel said in a statement. “We will not be bullied, intimidated or coerced into making a false choice between our values as a welcoming city and the principles of community policing.”
Justice Department representatives did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
According to the city, the feds have imposed a new “harboring” condition prohibiting the city from protecting undocumented immigrants, and are requiring additional certification of compliance with immigration law to receive grants.
The city first sued Sessions in August 2017, after the DOJ ordered Chicago and other sanctuary cities to give 48-hour notice before releasing undocumented immigrants from custody; to allow immigration agents access to jails; and to share citizenship information with the federal government.
Sessions warned city officials that if they didn’t comply with his orders, the city wouldn’t be eligible for the Byrne grant, which was worth more than $2 million. The city hasn’t yet received an award letter for 2018.
The city argued that its longstanding “Welcoming City” policy protects Chicagoans and leads to reductions in crime. City attorneys also have argued that complying with Sessions’ order would force the city to detain people for longer than constitutionally permissible.
Sessions previously sought to have Chicago’s first lawsuit tossed, but in July, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber sided with the city — an order with national implications.
Leinenweber said the injunction against Sessions’ requirements applied nationwide because there is “no reason to think that the legal issues present in this case are restricted to Chicago.”