News Analysis: Will more cities follow Chicago's step to sue Trump authority over immigration laws?

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-08 19:45:12|Editor: Zhou Xin
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by Peter Mertz

DENVER, the United States, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chicago became America's second big city Monday to sue the Trump Administration over immigration policy in just four months, stirring up a new around of debate if the federal government abuses power and if more cities, especially those controlled by the Democrats, will follow Chicago's step.

The 45-page suit answered Trump Attorney General Jeff Session's threat to withhold 2.3 million U.S. dollars in law enforcement grants unless Chicago police grant the federal government full access to their stations and arrest records.

"Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as former President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff.

Emanuel, 58, was re-elected Chicago mayor to a second term in 2015.

Chicago, with a law enforcement budget of almost 10 billion U.S. dollars a year, is asking a judge to toss out new Justice Department rules that will make the city ineligible to apply for federal grants unless it complies fully with the new Trump guidelines.

Sessions replied Monday saying that the third largest city of the United States needed a "recommitment to the rule of law and to policies that rollback the culture of lawlessness that has beset the city."

"It's simple," Sessions said in a statement hours after the suit was filed. "Comply with the law or forego taxpayer dollars."

The Chicago government is one of nine America local governments that received letters from Sessions warning they may lose federal funding because of their "sanctuary" policies restricting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement efforts.

The others includes the state of California, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Clark County of Nevada, Cook County of Illinois, Miami-Dade County of Florida, and Milwaukee County of Wisconsin.

"Sanctuary" is used for cities that do not permit police or municipal employees to inquire about one's immigration status, or for funds to be applied to enforce federal immigration laws.

"In addition to helping make Chicago the murder capital of the country, he's proud of making it a sanctuary city too," Nickarama wrote sarcastically Monday on the blog Young Conservatives.

According to, the Chicago murder rate is 15.2 per 100,000 and only 31st highest in the nation in 2015.

"Make no mistake about it," said Louis Cardona IV, "They're targeting these areas because they are not just large centers of minorities, but also strong Democratic strongholds too."

Earlier this year San Francisco and the county of Santa Clara, California won a temporary ban on enforcement of most of Trump's Jan. 25 executive order threatening to withhold funds from localities that don't cooperate.

"This is a classic Republican political strategy by making life difficult for the large immigrant bases who live in America's biggest cities," Cardona, a second-generation immigrant from Puerto Rica, told Xinhua.

But traditional Republicans questioned cities ignoring the new law.

"The whole concept of Sanctuary Cities in opposition to federal law is wrong," said Al Rickard, Washington, DC magazine publisher and Republican insider.

"Cities cannot just choose to ignore Federal immigration law," Rickard told Xinhua, "If there are specific abuses of the law than they should be addressed individually."

Sanctuary cities are located in traditionally blue states, Californian Blogger Rick Gage emphasized.

"They give more tax dollars to the federal government than they receive in return," he said.

"Maybe it is time for these blue states to start withholding tax dollars from a federal government which only seems to spend, foolishly, on walls and wars that guard against imaginary enemies," Gage said.

"The federal government is over-reaching its authority," Cardona added.

"It is actually against a conservative idea of letting the states govern themselves - that this Republican Administration is ignoring," he said.

Cardona's family can be traced back to the early 1700s to Grenoble, Spain, and his father was a teacher in New York City who helped immigrants find work in America in the 1950s.

"Back in the 1950s, the Puerto Ricans were the bad guys -- the Hollywood musical West Side Story talks about the fights between Puerto Ricans and the American New York City kids," said Cardona.

"Then it became Blacks...and now Trump has Mexicans and Middle Easterners in his crosshairs," he said.

American conservatives have always been prejudiced against a foreign-based underclass, according to Cardona, and that is who Trump is targeting with his strict immigration policy.

However, Young Conservative website's blogger Nickarama disagreed.

"You would think that people who perform poorly have some consciousness of having done so and perhaps some same for doing so," he said in reference to Chicago Mayor Emanuel, noting the 500 murders in Chicago last year.

"(Emanuel) not only doesn't follow federal law, but then has the temerity to actually sue the Department of Justice for calling them on it," he said.