Chicago public safety grants tied up over ‘sanctuary city’ status
By Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network
CHICAGO – As the city of Chicago continues to grapple with gun violence, leaders say there needs to be more resources, but the state’s perceived sanctuary laws have public safety grants in limbo.
Chicago violence got the attention of President Donald Trump, who late last week singled out The Windy City.
“Bad stuff happening and probably I guess you have to take it from the leadership, it’s called bad leadership,” Trump said. “There’s no reason in a million years that should be happening in Chicago.”
So far this year, the Chicago Sun Times reports, there have been at least 340 homicides.
Gov. Bruce Rauner blasted Chicago leaders for “fundamentally failing and failing horribly” at addressing violence and said they need more resources.
One thing Trump’s administration has battled Chicago over is law enforcement grants from the federal government. Trump’s Department of Justice says Chicago isn’t enforcing federal immigration laws.
“Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement – enough is enough.”
Chicago and Cook County were top on the list in a statement earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Justice “demanding the production of documents that could show whether each jurisdiction is unlawfully restricting information sharing by its law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.”
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said cities that don’t follow the law should not be rewarded.
“At the federal level, I voted to withhold funds from communities that don’t follow the law,” Davis said. “If you don’t like the law, let’s work together to change it.”
Rauner said he doesn’t like so-called sanctuary policies.
“I think that’s wrong, we have laws they should be enforced,” Rauner said. “I emphatically do not support sanctuary status. I think it’s been a mistake for Chicago to pursue the sanctuary policies that they have. I do not agree with them on that.”
But Rauner signed the TRUST Act in 2017 that state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said made Illinois a sanctuary state.
“It creates new hurdles for detaining people who are in this country illegally and who are in jail for another crime,” McSweeney said.
In 2016, local and county governments across Illinois received a total of $3.3 million from the Byrne JAG program. Chicago and other areas within Cook County received the bulk of that, more than $2.3 million.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued the Department of Justice last month over the $6.5 million in Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funds she said are meant for Illinois, saying Illinois’ TRUST Act complies with federal law.
McSweeney said Illinois’ TRUST Act does not comply with federal law and needs to be repealed.
On the violence in Chicago, McSweeney said Rauner needs to call the White House to get the feds involved. Even state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, last week said politics should be dropped and the Trump administration brought in to assist.
Rauner said there has been increased Illinois State Police patrols in the area, but he did not directly address what his administration is doing to coordinate with the Trump administration when asked several times last week. Instead, Rauner said another fix to the problem is growing the economies in communities affected by the violence.
“We can do this,” Rauner said. “I’ve made recommendations, Reduce the red tape, reduce the regulations, cut the taxes and we can bring a lot of companies here and we can drop that unemployment rate. That will solve a lot of it.”