Chicago sues Trump administration over sanctuary city plan

City claims policy forces choice between constitutional rights and police funding

Chicago on Monday sued to prevent the Trump administration from enforcing new policies that would withhold money from so-called sanctuary cities that deny US immigration officials access to local jails.

The lawsuit, filed in US district court, said the federal policies force the nation’s third-largest city to choose between its constitutional rights and funding for law enforcement.

“These new conditions also fly in the face of longstanding city policy that promotes co-operation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities,” the lawsuit said.

The policies also include a requirement that local law enforcement agencies give federal authorities 48 hours’ notice before releasing anyone wanted for immigration violations.


Democratic mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Sunday that the city would file the lawsuit, escalating a pushback against a federal immigration crackdown launched by Republican president Donald Trump’s administration.

‘Climate of fear’

“We are bringing this legal challenge because the rhetoric, the threats from this administration embodied in these new conditions imposed on unrelated public safety grants funds are breeding a culture and climate of fear,” Mr Emanuel’s senior legal adviser and corporation counsel Ed Siskel, said on Monday.

The new conditions from the justice department apply to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, which provide money to hundreds of cities. Chicago is expected to receive $3.2 million this year for purchasing equipment.

Mr Siskel said the city will follow the initial complaint with a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the government’s imposition of the new conditions.

The city will request a decision from the judge before the September 5th deadline to apply for the Byrne grant, Mr Siskel said.

Local jails

The lawsuit came nearly two weeks after US attorney general Jeff Sessions said the justice department would bar cities from the Byrne programme unless they allowed immigration authorities unlimited access to local jails and give the 48 hours pre-release notice.

Chicago and its high murder rate have been frequently criticised by Trump, and cracking down on illegal immigration was a theme of his 2016 presidential campaign.

The justice department said on Sunday that more Chicagoans were murdered last year than residents of Los Angeles and New York combined, and cited comments by Mr Sessions last week saying sanctuary cities “make all of us less safe”.

Justice department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a Sunday statement: “It’s especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago’s law enforcement at greater risk.” – (Reuters)