Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said his city is suing President Donald Trump's Department of Justice after it threatened to withhold federal grant money to law enforcement agencies in so-called "sanctuary cities."
The Justice Department said it would withhold the funds unless "sanctuary cities" assist the Department of Homeland Security in deporting undocumented people.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said municipalities that have refused to comply with federal agencies seeking to deport undocumented people are endangering the safety of officers and the public.
Emanuel on Sunday said his city will sue Trump's Justice Department for attempting to cut the city off from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants program.
"On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department published the application for the 2017 Byrne grants, and, unlike previous applications, this year's iteration requires cities to choose between strengthening our police department and the rights of Chicago's residents as a welcoming city," Emanuel said in a statement. "Over the years, Chicago has used Byrne grants for a variety of purposes that benefit public safety, including the purchase of SWAT equipment, police vehicles, radios and Tasers."
Following the Justice Department's move, California said it would also sue the federal government.
More than a dozen cities across the country have enacted legislation or drafted policies instructing local police not to question people about their immigration status, and not to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if someone is found to be in the country illegally.
"Chicago's Welcoming City ordinance promotes public safety by ensuring that no city resident, regardless of their status, is afraid to cooperate with law enforcement, report criminal activity to the police, serve as a witness in court or seek help as a victim of crime," Emanuel added.
The Trump administration argues such actions put law enforcement officers at risk and protects repeat offenders who could have been deported after their first arrest. Opponents argue the federal government is essentially trying to deputize local law enforcement and that everyday policing is made more difficult when people are afraid to talk to the officers for fear their immigration status will be uncovered.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on fed's sanctuary city warning: "We will never be coerced on our values" https://t.co/qSaWtdMm2w- CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 7, 2017
Eric DuVall contributed to this report.