Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a lawsuit against the Justice Department Monday, following threats from the White House to curtail federal grants for so-called sanctuary cities.
Cutting funds from sanctuary cities has been a top priority for the Trump administration ever since the President assumed office in January.
The Department of Justice recently implemented a controversial policy that would pull grants from law enforcement agencies which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
“Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate,” said Emanuel on Monday. The Democratic head of America’s Second City received $2.3 million last year from the same program the Justice Department is now using as leverage.
Shortly after Emanuel’s suit was made public at a press conference, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions lashed out at the Chicago mayor, saying a summertime spike in violent crime was at least partially attributable to undocumented aliens.
“No amount of federal taxpayer dollars will help a city that refuses to help its own residents,” said Sessions. “To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country’s lawful immigration system.”
According to Politico, Sessions also accused Emanuel and Chicago’s city council of “adopting an official policy of protecting criminal aliens.”
The comments fall in line with the precedent set by President Donald Trump, who has frequently criticized the Great Lakes metropolis for its crime rate.
Despite the federal government’s bluster, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson tried to rebuke the attorney general’s harsh claims.
“Undocumented immigrants are not driving violence in Chicago, and that’s why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be the immigration police,” said Johnson.
Proponents of sanctuary cities – which include Chicago as well as New York and Los Angeles – say illegal immigrants who aren’t afraid of deportation are more likely to dial 911 when they’ve witnessed a crime or become the victim of one.
“This is astounding given the unprecedented violent crime surge in Chicago, with the number of murders in 2016 surpassing both New York and Los Angeles combined,” Sessions said. “The city’s leaders cannot follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve.”
The City of Chicago has already suffered 400 homicides in 2017. Many of Cook County’s homicides are clustered in impoverished West and South Side neighborhoods.
New York, by comparison, is tentatively hoping to record fewer than 300 homicides by the end of the year. The nation’s largest city has over three times as many inhabitants as Chicago.
The attorney general’s charged comments followed his return to the United States from El Salvador. Sessions had been visiting the small Central American nation to investigate the roots of Mara Salvatrucha – frequently referred to as MS-13 — a fearsome street-gang implicated in killings across the continent.
Before departing for a meeting with his Salvadorian counterpart, Sessions similarly scolded Philadelphia’s mayor for implementing sanctuary policies capable of empowering groups like MS-13.
Philadelphia’s frustrated mayor, Jim Kenney, pointed out that the city had experienced its lowest crime rate in 140 years shortly after the ‘sanctuary city’ policy’s reinstatement.