Chicago on Monday sued to prevent the Trump administration from enacting new policies that would withhold money from so-called sanctuary cities that deny US immigration officials access to local jails.
The lawsuit filed in US District Court claims that the federal policies forced the city to choose between its constitutional rights and funding for law enforcement.
The lawsuit said: “These new conditions also fly in the face of longstanding City policy that promotes cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.”
The policies also include a requirement that local law enforcement give federal authorities 48-hour notice before releasing anyone wanted for immigration violations.
Democratic Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said on Sunday that the city would file the lawsuit, escalating a pushback against a federal immigration crackdown launched by Republican President, Donald Trump’s administration.
The lawsuit came nearly two weeks after U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, said the Justice Department would bar cities from a certain grant programme unless they allowed immigration authorities unlimited access to local jails and give the 48 hours pre-release notice.
Chicago and its high murder rate have been frequently criticised by Trump, and cracking down on illegal immigration was a major theme of his 2016 presidential campaign.
The Justice Department said on Sunday that more Chicagoans were murdered in 2016 than residents of Los Angeles and New York combined, and cited comments by Sessions last week saying sanctuary cities “make all of us less safe”.
Justice Department spokeswoman, Sarah Flores, said in a Sunday statement: “It is especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time.
“Also spending taxpayer’s money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago’s law enforcement at greater risk.”