Chicago Sues Over Trump’s Sanctuary City Threat
Chicago will file a lawsuit against the US Justice Department over President Trump’s threats to take away grant money for the police because the city will not assist the federal government in rounding up immigrants for deportation.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel claims that Trump’s demands undermine public safety and violates the Constitution, according to media reports.
Trump constantly barrages Chicago as a city out of control with violence, while Emanuel fights back to protect the city’s sanctuary status.
However, some local media and activists noted that it was Emanuel who led the attack on deporting undocumented immigrants when he worked with President Barack Obama, who was known as the “deporter-in-chief.”
Emanuel now wants to be known as the savior of immigrants and wants the court to decide that the federal stipulations are unlawful.
“Chicago will not be blackmailed into changing our values, and we are and will remain a welcoming city,” Emanuel told the media. “The federal government should be working with cities to provide necessary resources to improve public safety, not concocting new schemes to reduce our crime fighting resources.”
Chicago last year got $2.3 million in federal funds, which the city has over the years used to purchase SWAT equipment, police vehicles, radios and Tasers with the money.
One Chicago reporter wrote that Emanuel is playing politics to make a better image for the city after the horrific police shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald resulted in a major scandal for the city and the mayor. Protests throughout the city demanded the mayor resign and the police officer who shot the boy 16 times as he walked away is now going to trial for murder.
It was revealed that the city was involved in a cover-up and the City Council secretly agreed to pay McDonald’s family several million dollars. It was only thanks to a journalist who demanded to see the video and a city judge who agreed to release it that the city erupted and Emanuel’s political capital plummeted.
“I do think it’s largely for show,” said Andy Thayer, the city’s top anti-war activist. “As people much more experienced than me in immigration rights organizing will tell you, Chicago’s sanctuary cities ordinance has got huge loopholes that other cities with sanctuary cities ordinances don’t. Emanuel, as with most everything else, has refused to listen to the voices of those who have demanded an ordinance with real teeth.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, himself under fire from Trump, has reiterated his boss’s accusations that Chicago is not following federal law that requires local officials to provide immigration authorities access to local detention facilities, and provide the Dept. of Homeland Security at least 48 hours’ advance notice before local officials release an undocumented immigrant wanted by federal authorities, CNN stated.
It was actually Emanuel and Obama who streamlined this process by immediately sending information via a database about undocumented immigrants arrested to the immigration police.
While the lawsuit may be merely political, and a continued fight between Trump and the Democrats, both parties have shown their willingness to deport a lot of people. Even though arrests are up 33 percent from last year when Obama was in office, the number of immigrants arrested in Trump’s first year and the number of immigrants arrested in Obama’s first year are the same.
Another question to ask is how is receiving federal funds to beef up the police something that will benefit undocumented immigrants here who work the tough jobs and yet are threatened to be arrested.
“We, the Chicago Immigration Working Group—of which CALA is one of over 20 member organizations, hope the lawsuit is a genuine act of resistance by the City of Chicago to challenge the Trump Administration’s bullying and overreach of federal power,” said Lam Nguyen Ho, the executive director of the Community Active Law Alliance (CALA). “But we are very skeptical about its primary purpose, particularly given the opposition we have faced from the Mayor’s office to our efforts to remove the discriminatory carve outs from the Welcoming City Ordinance in order to protect all Chicagoans. We’re very concerned that lawsuit is not about defending the rights of undocumented Chicagoans but to preserve federal funding for the Chicago Police Department and bolster Mayor Emanuel’s national image as a champion of immigrants.”
Police have also expressed their reluctance to work with federal immigration police because they need the cooperation of immigrants when fighting crime.
The threat to cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities that protect immigrants could include losing federal grants that pay for a range of programs for crime and domestic violence victims, drug treatment, missing and exploited children, forensic labs, services for disabled people and boys’ and girls’ clubs, CNN reported.