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Chicago Preps Lawsuit Against Trump Administration For Withholding Grants

REUTERS/Frank Polich

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The city of Chicago plans to sue the Department of Justice over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s threat to deny federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chicago officials will go to federal court Monday to argue that the Department of Justice’s decision to withhold grant money from the city is unconstitutional, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in an interview with “Connected to Chicago” on local station WLS radio-890 that will air Sunday.

Sessions announced in July that Justice will not disburse Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program funds to cities that do not share immigration information with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Chicago was slated to receive $3.2 million this year for police vehicles, a relatively small sum compared to the city’s $9.8 billion budget. So far, the policy to deny federal grant money to sanctuary cities only applies to Byrne grants. (RELATED: Sessions Targets Sanctuary Cities As He Faces Pressure From The White House)

“We are not going to be between picking our values of who we are as a welcoming city, and strengthening our police department,” Emanuel told WLS reporter Bill Cameron in the interview.

“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,” Emanuel said.

The details of the lawsuit are unclear, but it could be related to a lawsuit California Attorney General Xavier Becerra may pursue.

Becerra is considering arguing that only Congress, not the executive branch, has the authority to withhold federal grants, and therefore Sessions’s decision to punish sanctuary cities is unconstitutional, McClatchy reports.

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