By Maya Rhodan
August 16, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions continued his condemnation of Chicago’s sanctuary policies, which limit interactions between the local government and immigration authorities, saying they amount to “lawlessness” and put citizens lives in danger in a Wednesday afternoon speech.

“These policies of sanctuary cities do far broader damage to the country than many understand. At its root, it is a rejection of our immigration laws and a declaration of open borders,” Sessions said. “It says if you enter the country last week with a criminal record and get to Chicago, we will not even support deporting you even after you commit a serious crime against one of our citizens. This is lawlessness.”

Chicago’s immigration policies are a major a target of the Trump Administration, which has threatened to block some federal funds to the Windy City and other jurisdictions with so-called sanctuary city policies. Last week, Chicago sued the Department of Justice over a rule that says cities can only have access to certain police grant funds if they give immigration authorities access to jails and notify authorities 48 hrs before they release any inmates wanted by immigration.

On Monday, the state of California filed a similar lawsuit against the Sessions Department of Justice. In response to that lawsuit, Sessions issued a scathing statement about the city’s leadership and blamed their actions for the violence plaguing the city. There have been 437 murders in the city so far this year, according to DNAInfo.

On Wednesday, Sessions continued that attack over 1,000 miles away in Miami where he praised local leaders for complying with federal immigration law. “This is wonderful news for law enforcement and the citizens of Miami-Dade. It means more money for crime fighting. And it means we are partners in keeping everyone here safe,” Sessions said. “Unfortunately, some cities–like Chicago–refuse to follow your example.”

Sessions also appeared to suggest the sanctuary policies contributed to the violence in Chicago, which the city’s police Superintendent Eddie Johnson refuted in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “I have said it before and I will say it again, undocumented immigrants are not driving violence in Chicago and that’s why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be the immigration police,” Johnson said.

Sessions urged concerned citizens to complain directly to the city’s mayor. “If voters in Chicago are concerned about losing federal grant money: call your mayor,” he said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to Sessions attack on Wednesday with a fiery statement of his own.

“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,” the Mayor’s statement reads.
“Chicago will continue to stand up proudly as a welcoming city, and we will not cave to the Trump administration’s pressure because they are wrong morally, wrong factually and wrong legally.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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