By MICHAEL TARM and SOPHIA TAREEN
CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken his fight against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies to court, with Chicago becoming one of the first cities Monday to sue the government over what many U.S. cities argue are illegal bids to withhold public safety grants from so-called sanctuary cities.
The 46-page lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, a day after Emanuel announced the litigation and said the city won’t “be blackmailed” into changing its values as a welcoming city. He argued it’s unconstitutional for a city “to be coerced on a policy.”
A first order of business now that the suit has been filed will be to ask a judge to put a freeze on the policy at least until the civil case plays out, said Edward Siskel, the head of City Hall’s legal department. That request for a preliminary injunction could be made within days.
Chicago officials say there are new qualifications for a grant that requires cities to share information with U.S. immigration authorities, which they allege are unconstitutional. Chicago has received the grant funds since 2005, including $2.3 million last year. They were used for buying police vehicles, radios and SWAT equipment.
“These new conditions — which would give federal officials the power to enter city facilities and interrogate arrestees at will and would force the City to detain individuals longer than justified by probable cause, solely to permit federal officials to investigate their immigration status — are unauthorized and unconstitutional,” the complaint read. “These new conditions also fly in the face of longstanding City policy that promotes cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, ensures access to essential city services for all residents, and makes all Chicagoans safer.”
Those grant amounts of money are relatively small, but Chicago leaders say they fear more impactful restrictions could be coming and so they hope to establish in court that such government measures are illegal.
It is the latest round in a battle between several major U.S. cities that opt to limit cooperation with federal government efforts to enforce immigration law and the Trump administration, with federal officials threatening for months to withhold funding for sanctuary cities, saying they don’t comply with federal laws.
Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said local governments would lose the money if they do not give…