Lawsuit filed by the City of Chicago against the Department of Justice
Filed on July 7, 2017

Policy Summary

On Monday, July 7th the city of Chicago’s sued the Department of Justice, over its threat to withhold federal funds to Sanctuary Cities. Specifically, the DOJ threatened to withhold funds from the Byrne JAG grant program, which provides federal funds for local police forces (I go into greater detail about this action in the previous Immigration brief). In announcing the lawsuit Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel derided the new Justice Department policies as “unconstitutional” and vowed that Chicago will “not be blackmailed by the federal government”. The case will be heard in the United States District Court for the District of Northern Illinois. LEARN MORE


In this case, Chicago is arguing that complying with the new Justice Department guidelines would result in the erosion of trust between immigrant communities and the police, which in turn could lead to a myriad of problems such as a lower number of crimes being reported, and less cooperation. Additionally, Chicago is concerned that holding immigrants at its jails at the request of federal immigration authorities(which is required under the new DOJ guidelines), could result in detention times longer than is permissible by the Constitution.  While the Trump Administration argues that cracking down on Sanctuary cities is necessary to prevent crime (the data says otherwise) it is putting itself in the awkward position of threatening to withhold funds for law enforcement agencies after previously stating that helping police forces was one of its highest priorities. LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

  • Take Action with United We Dream: United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. They organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.
  • Get involved with the American Civil Liberties Union: The ACLU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
  • Find a Congressional Town Hall Meeting Near You: Search by town and state or zip code to find a congressional Town Hall scheduled near you.  Voice your concerns about the Travel Ban and other Trump Administration policies directly to your Representative or Senator.

This brief was compiled by William Lucier. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact



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