CITY HALL — Attorneys representing the City of Chicago plan to sue the Trump administration, challenging Attorney General Jeff Sessions' attempt to yank federal funds from sanctuary cities like Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday.
During an interview on "Connected to Chicago" with Bill Cameron on WLS radio-890, Emanuel said city attorneys planned to file suit against the federal government on Monday. The interview will air at 7 p.m. Sunday.
"We're not going to actually auction off our values as a city," Emanuel said in the interview. "We find it unlawful and unconstitutional to be, as a city, coerced on a policy."
Sessions announced July 26 that only cities that cooperate with federal immigration agents would be eligible to receive the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is the leading source of federal funding for state and local law enforcement agencies.
Cities that get the grant would have to "allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities," Sessions said in a statement.
In 2016, Chicago got $2.3 million through the grant, which was expanded by the Obama Administration to allow cities to purchase body cameras after a series of fatal encounters between police officers and unarmed civilians. The city got about the same amount from the grant in 2015, city records show.
City officials had expected to get $3.2 million in 2017 from the grant named for New York Police Officer Edward Byrne, who was slain on duty in 1988, said Molly Poppe, a spokeswoman for Emanuel.
Sessions has repeatedly criticized Chicago for declaring itself a "sanctuary city," saying those policies tie the hands of law enforcement by "undermining federal laws that would remove criminal, illegal aliens from the streets and remove them from this country."
Ald. Carols Ramirez Rosa (35th) has scoffed at this threat from the Trump administration, noting that the grant in question amounts to a "rounding error" in the city's $8.2 billion 2017 budget.
In April, a federal judge blocked an initial order by Sessions that raised the possibility that Chicago stood to lose $1.3 billion — 14 percent of its budget. The president's executive order contained "broad and threatening language" that "impermissibly" threatened cities like Chicago determined to protect undocumented immigrants with the loss of all federal grants, the judge ruled.
Since Trump's election, Emanuel has repeatedly said Chicago will remain a "sanctuary city" and prohibit city officials from helping immigration agents.
As Emanuel considers whether to run for a third term as mayor, he has repeatedly touted Chicago as a city of immigrants and said he was determined to protect them from attacks by Trump, who vowed during the campaign to deport all undocumented immigrants.
In addition, to launching a $1.3 million legal defense fund that helped 600 immigrants, Emanuel has launched One Chicago, a campaign designed to highlight the fact "that everyone is welcome in this city no matter their race, religion, background or sexual orientation," according to the mayor's office.
The Illinois Chapter of American Civil Liberties Union have urged Emanuel and the City Council to do more to protect undocumented immigrants in Chicago, adding its name to demands made by representatives of several groups made up of black and Latino Chicagoans shortly after Trump's inauguration.