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Chicago must apply for grant as sanctuary city legal battle plays out

Developers of Chicago’s largest private projects would be required to sign affidavits spelling out their efforts to share the wealth with minorities, under an executive order signed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that disappointed minority aldermen. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times file photo

Despite the bluster, the City of Chicago’s sanctuary city fight with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not be resolved before a Sept. 5 deadline to apply for a Justice Department grant imposing new conditions that would aid immigration authorities.

That means the city will apply for the grant while opposing the new conditions that include giving federal authorities access to correctional and detention centers. It will file its application while doing battle in federal court with President Donald Trump’s Justice Department over that and other recently attached strings.

“The Chicago Police Department plans to submit its application by the stated deadline but will not agree to these unconstitutional restrictions on critical public safety grant funds,” Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s law department, said in a statement.

That was the upshot of a brief hearing in federal court Tuesday — the first since the city filed a lawsuit last week that prompted a blistering rebuke from Sessions, who decried the “culture of lawlessness that has beset” Chicago. The city filed a separate motion Thursday seeking an order by Sept. 5 that would temporarily stop the Justice Department from imposing the new conditions.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber put off until Sept. 11 the next hearing on the city’s request.

Justice Department lawyers argued in a filing Monday that Sept. 5 “is not a decisive date.” Rather, they said the city would not be forced to accept the grant conditions until “signing the award document.” And the city would have until 45 days after being chosen to receive the money to ink the deal.

Leinenweber clarified in court Tuesday that, if the city applies for the grant and later wins its case, it would not be bound by the new conditions, which also include giving a 48-hour heads up to the feds of the scheduled release date and time “of an alien in the jurisdiction’s custody.”