Chicago Lays the Smackdown on DOJ Decision

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White Chicago Police vehicle parked outside store

On Monday, Chicago filed a lawsuit in a federal court against the Department of Justice, challenging its decision to deprive “sanctuary cities” of multi-million federal funding if they fail to comply with federal anti-immigration rules. Chicago is a “sanctuary city” too.

Sanctuary cities are municipalities or any jurisdictions where local police can’t detain illegal immigrants without a warrant.

A Controversial Policy

The lawsuit challenges the DOJ’s latest policy that forces cities to grant federal agents full access to prisons and police stations when an illegal immigrant is involved. Under the new rules, local police must detain an immigrant for at least 48 hours at the DHS’ request.

Cities that violate the new rules will be cut off completely from federal funds that ensure the infrastructure for defense and public safety. Chicago, on the other hand, claims that complying with the new policy would contradict its “Welcoming City ordinance,” which bars city authorities from disclosing the immigration status of a person unless there are some specific circumstances.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted Sunday that the new DOJ restrictions would force the municipality to choose between beefing up their police department and Chicago’s status as a “welcoming city.” The mayor explained that the ordinance ensures that city residents are not afraid to cooperate with the police in cases that require them being a witness or reporting a crime.

The DOJ’s Response

A spokesperson for the DOJ thinks the city is wasting taxpayer dollars protecting criminal aliens and putting local police at greater risk. The law firm representing the Windy City in the lawsuit is working pro bono.

With the lawsuit, Chicago wants to keep in place the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which funnels around $260 million to states and municipalities every year. Under the program, Chicago was awarded $2.3 million last year. The money was used to buy police vehicles, SWAT equipment, and Tasers.
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