In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s threat to cut off federal funds for sanctuary cities, including Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice on Aug. 4. The city’s lawsuit concerns newly issued DOJ regulations that would prevent Chicago from accessing federal grants for public safety unless immigration authorities were given full access to the city’s police stations and were notified by a minimum of 48 hours when wanted immigrants were scheduled for release from custody. While this fight wends its way through federal court, the best immigration lawyers in Chicago continue advocating for immigrants who are ensnared in the immigration system and those who are attempting to secure the visas that they need to remain in the U.S. legally.
Why Chicago Sued the DOJ
The Trump Administration has claimed that cities with sanctuary policies for immigrants are endangering others, which is why the DOJ has taken such an aggressive stance. Cities and law enforcement officers argue that enacting policies that would make law enforcement officers notify federal immigration authorities when they encounter undocumented immigrants would instead hurt public safety. Law enforcement agencies work to build trust relationships with the public, including in minority communities. This helps victims and witnesses of crimes feel more comfortable in coming forward. If these victims and witnesses believe that they might be turned over to immigration authorities, they will be less likely to report crimes.
The Grants That Are at Stake
The lawsuit concerns public safety grants through which cities can purchase vehicles, SWAT team equipment and guns for their police forces. While these grants are currently just a tiny portion of Chicago’s overall budget, city officials argue that if the city failed to challenge the regulations, the funding cut-off could be extended by the Justice Department to include other important federal grants as well.
Opponents of Trump’s push to cut off funds for sanctuary cities also argue that this type of action would be a federal overreach and unconstitutional. In April, a federal judge in the Ninth Circuit blocked a portion of Trump’s executive order to cut off funding to sanctuary cities, ruling that it would cause immediate and irreparable harm to the cities.
It remains to be seen what will ultimately happen with the DOJ’s regulations. The best immigration lawyers will continue to represent businesses and people who have immigration issues in the meantime.