By Joe Guzzardi
August 9, 2017
In sanctuary city Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s defense of his indefensible refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities has reached the once, but no longer, unimaginable – legal action.
In a suit brought in Illinois’ Northern District, Chicago sued the Department of Justice, and named as defendant Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the grounds that he cannot deny the city federal funding on the basis of noncompliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds placed on criminal aliens. Emanuel said that ending Chicago’s law enforcement-related funding is unconstitutional, and would also interfere with the city’s welcoming policy where all are free to pursue the American dream.
On several levels, Emanuel’s lawsuit and doubletalk are knee-slappers. First, to suggest that Chicago is a place one might travel to in search of the American dream is a stretch. As a DOJ representative said in her response to Emanuel’s press conference that announced the pending litigation, Chicago is the United States’ deadliest city. In 2016, more murders were committed in Chicago than in New York and Los Angeles combined. Emanuel’s strict adherence to sanctuary status means that instead of being deported as the law allows, criminals are released into the general public, and often become repeat offenders.
Second, last year U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), Appropriations, Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee Chair, met with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch. After their meeting, Lynch agreed, and certified that ten major U.S. cities including Chicago were out of compliance with federal immigration law, and could therefore lose federal funding.
According to Culberson, Lynch notified every city and state in the nation that unless they “cooperate 100 percent” of the time with the Department of Homeland Security’s alien information requests about criminals in local custody, then those jurisdictions could “lose all their federal law enforcement money.” Chicago has already been put on notice, and Culberson said the city is subject to losing its funding “at any time.” Emanuel is well aware that Chicago is a sanctuary; the fact is settled business and has been confirmed by President Obama’s Attorney General.
Third, Emanuel’s all-in gambit could cost him dearly. U.S. Code, Title 8, Section 1324, allows the federal government to arrest and fine anyone who aids or abets aliens in their effort to remain in the country. Since Emanuel has publicly admitted that his goal is to provide aliens safe haven and has issued them municipal identification cards to assist them, a legal case brought against him for violating Section 1324 could be easily prosecuted. Although legal action against Emanuel is unlikely, ICE acting director Thomas Homan promises that the day is coming when the municipal leader will be charged, and that he will in the meantime direct additional agents to Chicago and other sanctuaries with orders to step up removal action against criminals.
Ironically, in 2010 when he was White House Chief of Staff, Emanuel warned President Obama against getting too embroiled in immigration. Suggesting President Obama focus on health care, Emanuel called immigration the third rail of American politics.
As his confrontation with DOJ moves forward, Emanuel may ultimately wish he had taken his own past advice about staying out of the immigration quagmire, and instead cleaned up the mess in his Chicago backyard.