Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday contended that Chicago’s policy on detention of immigrants makes its citizens less safe, and said Chicagoans need to call Mayor Rahm Emanuel or face a cutoff of federal law enforcement grants.
“We cannot continue giving federal taxpayer money to cities that actively undermine the safety and efficacy of federal law enforcement and actively frustrate efforts to reduce crime in their cities,” Sessions said in a speech in Miami. “So if voters in Chicago are concerned about losing federal grant money: call your mayor.”
The comments came as federal officials seek to undo local ordinances in Chicago, Cook County and other metropolitan areas around the country, that limit, in one way or another, their willingness to cooperate with federal officials. Many are refusing to hold suspects in custody solely on the belief that they are in the United States illegally, absent a warrant signed by a judge.
The Trump administration is threatening to withhold federal grants from jurisdictions that do not drop such policies and agree to hold suspects believed to be in the country illegally when requested by federal authorities.
Some federal judges around the country have ruled those requests, known as detainers, are not mandatory orders, like warrants. Last week Chicago became one of the first cities to sue the Trump administration over that threat. As part of the suit, the city is hoping a federal judge will order the administration not to enforce the funding cutoff while the case is considered.
Sessions’s speech on Wednesday came after Miami-Dade officials agreed to reverse their policy and cooperate with federal authorities. Sessions, in his speech, contended the contrasting philosophies is reflected in the murder rates: “In Chicago – a city with almost exactly the same 2.7 million person population as Miami-Dade – more than 433 people have been murdered since the beginning of the year,” Sessions said. “More than three times as many as Miami-Dade.
“For the sake of their city, Chicago’s leaders need to recommit to policies that punish criminals instead of protecting them,” he said.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said immigrants living in Chicago illegally are not the source of violent crime in the city.
“That’s why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be the immigration police,” Johnson said.
Emanuel also fired back at the Trump administration, calling Sessions’s position “wrong morally, wrong factually and wrong legally.” Emanuel further stated Sessions “could not have picked a worse time” to promote strict immigration enforcement the week after the president failed to condemn a deadly white nationalist rally in Virginia.