Attorney General Jeff Sessions had harsh words for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday after he and other city leaders announced a lawsuit against the Justice Department over its policy regarding so-called sanctuary cities.
“They have demonstrated an open hostility to enforcing laws designed to protect law enforcement — Federal, state, and local — and reduce crime, and instead have adopted an official policy of protecting criminal aliens who prey on their own residents,” Sessions said in a surprisingly combative statement.
“No amount of federal taxpayer dollars will help a city that refuses to help its own residents,” he added.
Earlier on Monday, Emanuel announcement that Chicago is suing the Justice Department for requiring cities to end their sanctuary policies in order to receive federal grants aimed at fighting crime.
Last month, Sessions announced that cities will have to meet certain compliance standards in order to receive funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, known as JAG.
Chicago received $2.3 million through the program last year.
For cities to receive the grant in the future, Sessions stipulated that they must comply with certain requests from federal immigration agencies.
Local officials, including police officers, would be required to provide information about illegal aliens as well as allow federal immigration agents into local jails. Local officials would also be required to give the Department of Homeland Security at least 48 hours’ notification before releasing illegal aliens wanted for deportation.
In its lawsuit, the city of Chicago claims that the Justice Department cannot legally require city officials to help federal immigration agencies in order to receive funding.
“Chicago is a welcoming city and always will be, and we will not be blackmailed by President Trump’s Justice Department,” Emanuel said in a statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit. “Forcing us to choose between our values and our police department’s philosophy of community policing is a false choice, and it is a choice that would ultimately undermines our public safety agenda.”
In his response, Sessions tied Chicago’s immigration policies to its astronomical violent crime rate.
“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,” he said.
“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. The city’s leaders cannot follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve.”
Sessions went on to claim that Chicago’s crime problem could be fixed by “a recommitment to the rule of law and to policies that rollback the culture of lawlessness that has beset the city.”
Other cities whose JAG funding is threatened by Sessions’ requirements are expected to sue the Justice Department.