Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that the City of Chicago has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent President Donald Trump's Justice Department from making a federal crime prevention grant that is critical to public safety efforts conditional on unrelated and unlawful immigration enforcement actions.
“Community policing is a guiding philosophy of the Chicago Police Department, but it cannot succeed when a segment of the community is afraid to cooperate or communicate with the police,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Chicago is a welcoming City and always will be, and we will not be blackmailed by President Trump's Justice Department. 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 undermine our public safety agenda.”
Mayor Emanuel, Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel and Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced the City’s intent to file the lawsuit at a press conference yesterday; video of the press conference can be found at https://livestream.com/chicagosmayor/press/videos/160878814. View a copy of the federal lawsuit that was filed today:
On Thursday, August 3, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice published the application for FY2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, which provides states and cities with federal funding to support local law enforcement efforts. Unlike previous applications, this year’s iteration requires that new conditions be met by local municipalities in order to be eligible for grant funding. These conditions include the certification of compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, a federal statute that bars restrictions on federal-local sharing of immigration status information; unlimited access to local police stations and law enforcement facilities by U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel to interrogate arrestees; and the requirement that cities provide DHS with at least a 48 hour notice prior to an arrestee’s release, which would require detaining residents longer than is permissible under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. These conditions effectively federalize local detention facilities and violate the Fourth Amendment in instances where detainees are otherwise lawfully eligible for release from police custody.
Over the years, Chicago has used Byrne JAG funds for a variety of purposes that benefit public safety, including the purchase of SWAT equipment, police vehicles, radios and tasers. Last year, the City of Chicago received $2.3 million in Byrne JAG funds.
As part of the suit, the City asks the court to declare the Attorney General’s actions in imposing the new conditions unlawful and that Chicago and its Welcoming City ordinance are in compliance with all valid and applicable federal laws.
“We filed a lawsuit this morning in response to the unlawful conditions the Department of Justice recently announced for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant. The Attorney General does not have the authority to add new requirements to a grant program created by Congress and cannot commandeer local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration law functions,” said Corporation Counsel Siskel. “We are asking the court to ensure that we are not forced to either forego critical grant funds or agree to new conditions, which violate the Constitution and our Welcoming City ordinance.”
Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance prioritizes effective local law enforcement and crime prevention over federal civil immigration issues. This ordinance promotes public safety by ensuring that no city resident, regardless of their status, is afraid to cooperate with law enforcement, report criminal activity to the police, serve as a witness in court, or seek help as a victim of crime.
"Protecting every Chicagoan, regardless of who you are or where you are from, is the cornerstone of CPD's mission," said CPD Superintendent Johnson. "We will not compromise the safety and well-being of our city and the people we serve in the name of politics."
Applications for FY2017 Byrne Grants are due on September 5, 2017. The Byrne JAG program is named for Edward Byrne, a New York City police officer who was murdered in 1988 while on assignment protecting a Guyanese immigrant who had reported illegal activity to police.
The City of Chicago is being supported in its legal efforts on this issue by two outside law firms, Riley Safer and Wilmer Hale, who are providing their services pro bono.