Sessions rails against Chicago during visit to Miami

Sessions rails against Chicago during visit to Miami
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Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE railed against Chicago’s sanctuary city policy Wednesday in a speech meant to praise Miami-Dade County's collaboration with federal immigration authorities.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez (R) ended the city’s sanctuary policy in February, allowing local law enforcement agencies to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers.

“Unfortunately, some cities — like Chicago — refuse to follow your example,” said Sessions.

Sessions linked Chicago's murder rate to its refusal to honor ICE detainers.

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“In Chicago — a city with almost exactly the same 2.7 million person population as Miami-Dade — more than 433 people have been murdered since the beginning of the year. More than three times as many as Miami-Dade,” said Sessions.

The speech continued a feud between Sessions and Chicago that started earlier this month when Chicago sued the Trump administration over its threat to withdraw federal law enforcement funds from so-called sanctuary cities.

Sessions has made combatting sanctuary policies, particularly refusal to comply with detainers, a central issue of his tenure as attorney general.

ICE detainers are requests to hold foreign detainees and prisoners in state and local jails after the constitutionally mandated period so they can be picked up by federal immigration authorities.

Many cities, including Chicago, have argued that detainers make them liable for violations of prisoners’ constitutional due process rights.

Still, Sessions has zeroed in on Chicago, even though other large cities have similar policies.

“Last year, Chicago’s 2.7 million residents experienced more murders than the 12.5 million people who live in New York and Los Angeles — combined,” said Sessions.  

“The Chicago Police Department also reported more than 4,300 shooting victims. In the first half of last year, violent crime across the nation increased 5 percent, but in Chicago it surged 24 percent,” he added.

President Trump has often portrayed Chicago as an example of big-city lawlessness.

In June, he sent a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives team of agents to fight gun violence in the city.

Sessions commented on the example of an undocumented criminal in Portland who was released by local authorities before assaulting and raping a woman, but quickly reverted to criticism of Chicago.

Sessions took direct aim at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), after the city filed its lawsuit against the federal government on Aug. 7.

“Rather than acknowledge soaring murder counts or the heartbreaking stories told by victims’ families, Chicago’s mayor has chosen to sue the federal government,” he said.

Sessions added that Justice Department grants are designed to aid cities in crime reduction, “but we cannot continue giving federal taxpayer money to cities that actively undermine the safety and efficacy of federal law enforcement and actively frustrate efforts to reduce crime in their cities.”

“So if voters in Chicago are concerned about losing federal grant money: call your mayor,” Sessions added.

Emanuel shot back Wednesday, saying Chicago "will not cave to the Trump administration's pressure because they are wrong morally, wrong factually and wrong legally."

"In a week in which the Trump administration is being forced to answer questions about neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK, they could not have picked a worse time to resume their attack on the immigrants who see America as a beacon of hope," said Emanuel.

Sanctuary cities have also criticized detainers and federal immigration raids for damaging trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

But Sessions dismissed that notion.

“[Chicago's] leaders have even gone so far as to claim that these 'sanctuary' policies help reduce crime by encouraging illegal aliens to report it when it happens. But no evidence supports this claim,” he said.

“Far from making Chicago safer, these policies likely make cooperation with law enforcement more difficult: if there are no real consequences for the criminal, no witness will risk their life to report the crime. That means criminals walk free and victims suffer in silence,” said Sessions.

Sessions added that sanctuary policies “provide safe harbor for some of the most dangerous criminals in our country.”

“That makes a sanctuary city a trafficker, smuggler, or predator’s best friend,” said Sessions.