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Chicago To Keep ‘Sanctuary’ Status Despite Sessions’ Promise To Pull Funding


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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no plans to change city policies that shield illegal immigrants, even after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday he will withhold Department of Justice (DOJ) funds from local jurisdictions that don’t comply with federal immigration law.

Emanuel has adamantly defended Chicago’s status as a “sanctuary city” since President Donald Trump took office. At a news conference earlier this month, the former Obama White House chief of staff said that “Chicago has in its past been a sanctuary city … It will always be a sanctuary city.”

Sessions’ warning to noncompliant cities, part of a surprise announcement during Monday’s daily press briefing at the White House, appears to have had little effect on Emanuel’s position. Mayoral spokesman Matt McGrath told the Chicago Sun-Times that nothing the attorney general said will change City Hall policy.

“The administration’s plan to deny federal funds to cities that are standing up for their values is unconstitutional,” McGrath wrote to the Sun-Times in an email.

Cook County officials backed Emanuel’s position on Monday, insisting that they are not “agents of the federal government” and are under no legal obligation to carry out federal immigration enforcement responsibilities. County spokesman Frank Shuftan told the Sun-Times that county jails would not detain anyone for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the absence of a criminal warrant.

“We believe it is appropriate for ICE to carry out its responsibilities through its own due diligence, but any effort by the president or members of his administration to compel localities to aid in federal immigration enforcement threaten the safety of our residents and, in our view, violate constitutional law,” he wrote to the Sun-Times.

Chicago area law enforcement and criminal justice programs stand to lose significant DOJ grants if Sessions follows through on his promise. This fiscal year, the Chicago-Cook County Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant is set to receive $2,333,428; the Cook County Justice and Mental Health Collaboration, $243,012; and the Cook County South Suburban Safe and Thriving Communities Project, $1 million, the Sun-Times reported.

During his announcement Monday, Sessions said DOJ would “claw back” funding to state and local jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal immigration law, including detainer requests.

DOJ plans to distribute $4.1 billion worth of grants to states and cities this fiscal year, Sessions said.


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