Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that a federal judge granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against Attorney General Sessions because of new conditions the Trump Justice Department attempted to impose on the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which provides critical public safety funding. The ruling was made in a federal lawsuit the City filed to prevent President Trump's Justice Department from requiring grantees to comply with unrelated and unlawful grant conditions that would have required Chicago to assist with Federal immigration enforcement.
“Progress is never easy, but it is always worth fighting for. In Chicago we will always fight for our values and the rights of our residents,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Today’s ruling means essential resources for public safety in Chicago and across the country cannot come with unlawful strings attached from the Trump Justice Department. This is not just a victory for the City of Chicago, but a win for cities, counties and states across America.”
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber agreed with the City that the federal government has no authority to require the City to provide 48 hours advanced notice to the federal government before releasing a suspected undocumented immigrant from custody, and grant unlimited access to City lockups for federal immigration officials to interrogate suspected undocumented immigrants. The City’s legal briefs explained that the conditions are invalid and unconstitutional. The City also explained that the trust between immigrant communities and state and local governments would be irreparably harmed without a preliminary injunction, and that a nationwide injunction is necessary to protect all grant applicants from the invalid and unconstitutional conditions placed on the grant.
“We are very pleased that the judge agreed that the Department of Justice does not have the authority to add requirements to a grant program that was created by Congress and has operated for many years under the established conditions,” said Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel. “We took this action to stand up for Chicago’s values and to ensure we did not lose important public safety grants by refusing to cooperate with these new unlawful conditions. This ruling makes clear that the Attorney General does not have the authority to unilaterally impose new requirements without approval from Congress.”
Over the years, Chicago has used Byrne grant funds, in a number of ways to benefit public safety, including the purchase of SWAT equipment, police vehicles, radios and tasers. On August 31, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) submitted its application for FY2017 Byrne grant funding, making clear that the City will not agree to unlawful and unrelated new conditions attached to the federal grant application. CPD proposes using this grant funding to expand ShotSpotter gunfire detection, one of the key components of the new, strategically located nerve centers that help police get ahead of crime and prevent violence from happening in the first place. This grant funding would allow CPD to add an additional 20.31 square miles to the ShotSpotter network in Districts 003 and 004, two police districts experiencing higher than average rates of gang and gun related crime.
“This Police Department is only as strong as the community’s belief in us,” said Acting Superintendent Kevin Navarro. “Every single day, CPD is building that trust through community policing and forging meaningful relationships with residents in every neighborhood. Regardless of who you are or where you are from, you will always have a right to be safe in Chicago.”
The City of Chicago is 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.