CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chicago on Monday sued to prevent the Trump administration from enacting new policies that would withhold money from so-called sanctuary cities that deny U.S. immigration officials access to local jails.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court claims that the federal policies force the 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 cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities,” the lawsuit said.
The policies also include a requirement that local law enforcement 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.
The lawsuit came nearly two weeks after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department would bar cities from a certain grant program 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 criticized by Trump, and cracking down on illegal immigration was a major 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 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.”
(Reporting by Mark Weinraub and Julia Jacobs; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)