Major sanctuary city suing Trump, Sessions and DOJ over funding dispute

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of his city, claiming it’s illegal for President Trump to order the federal government to withhold public safety grant money from sanctuary cities.

The city will head into federal court Monday to challenge Trump’s immigration policies, and argue Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not permitted to rescind federal Byrne grants from cities the Trump administration deems uncooperative with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Byrne Justice Assistance Grants provide a small amount of money to Chicago, which is primarily used to to buy police vehicles.

The city this year is counting on $3.2 million from the program. The grants amount to roughly three-hundredths of 1 percent of the entire $9.8 billion city budget. In essence, the lawsuit is not grandeur in scale, but it does create political upside for Emanuel as he courts support from concerned Latinos and anti-Trump citizens. The lawsuit would essentially propel Emanuel’s profile among big-city mayors pushing back against Trump policies, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Emanuel, during an interview with WLS radio-890 WLS reporter Bill Cameron on “Connected to Chicago,” said the following:

“We are not going to be between picking our values of who we are as a welcoming city, and strengthening our police department. We’re not going to actually auction off our values as a city, so Monday morning the City of Chicago is going to court; we’re going to take the Justice Department to court based on this. We find it unlawful and unconstitutional to be, as a city, coerced on a policy.”

As of Friday, the Justice Department has not provided a statement of response to Emanuel.

Sessions, by orders of Trump’s immigration agenda, announced in July that local governments would lose the money if they do not cooperate with ICE agents when illegal immigrants are released from custody:

“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes. These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law.”

In response to Chicago’s situation with Byrne grants, Democratic California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is considering legal action accusing the Justice Department of violating the state Constitution. According to a McClatchy news service report, Becerra may pose the argument that it’s Congress who is responsible for operating the conditions on the grant money, not the executive branch.

Chicago has earned its “sanctuary city” label since its law prohibits police from providing federal ICE officials access to illegal individuals who are in the Police Department’s custody. The only way this can be bypassed is if they are wanted on a criminal warrant or have serious criminal convictions, but many illegal immigrants within the country don’t hold previous criminal records. In addition, ICE agents are exempted from conducting interviews or investigations at local police facilities, and on-duty officers are permitted to reject ICE inquiries about a person’s custody status or release date.

Even the city’s major newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, contributes to the pro-illegal immigrant agenda by eradicating the term “illegal alien.”

“In a democracy that values the rule of law, word choice is important, especially when those words come from voices of authority,” wrote reporter Todd Slowik last week, in a column titled, “Loaded ‘illegal alien’ phrase introduced in sanctuary cities crackdown,” implying the Trump administration invented the phrase, despite its existence years prior.

Breitbart points out in a report that “alien” is the word used by the federal government to identify any person in the United States from a foreign country. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service defines an alien as “an individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national,” specifying “immigrant,” “nonimmigrant,” and “illegal alien.” The official definition of an illegal alien is “an alien who has entered the United States illegally and is deportable if apprehended or an alien who entered the United States legally but now has fallen ‘out of status’ and is deportable.”

The Tribune, however, doesn’t acknowledge that the definition of “illegal alien” was not created or added to the government’s lexicon by anyone in the Trump administration, writing, “A not-so-subtle shift in word choice by the U.S. Department of Justice this week has largely gone unnoticed. I’d like to call attention to it. I think it’s another sign of how quickly a ‘new normal’ is taking hold, regardless of foundation in facts or law.”

Slowik seems oblivious to the fact that the term has been in place for decades. However, the Library of Congress did announce in March 2016 that they would be erasing all references to the term “illegal alien” from its international subject headings, claiming that “illegal” is dehumanizing, and “alien” makes people feel far removed.

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