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Syracuse enters ‘sanctuary city’ legal battle against Justice Department

Colin Davy | Staff Photographer

In a press release, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said she supports Chicago's legal fight with the Department of Justice over funds for "sanctuary cities."

In the latest effort to defend “sanctuary cities,” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced Friday the city will be standing with Chicago in a legal battle against the Department of Justice.

The city of Syracuse is among more than 30 cities, municipalities and organizations across the United States that are on a legal brief known as amicus brief in a lawsuit filed by Chicago against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Chicago sued Sessions in early August to defy the Justice Department, which threatened to cut off federal funds to sanctuary cities. Law enforcement agencies have also refused to comply with federal immigration agencies’ requests to detain immigrants who entered the country illegally.

The amicus brief argues that the DOJ denying sanctuary cities the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, a prominent federal funding source for local enfacement agencies, is against federal law, seizes local control in public safety policy and “poses serious challenges for local governments.”

The amicus brief is filed by nonlitigants “with a strong interest” regarding the subject, according to the Public Health Law Center.

“I support the city of Chicago’s effort to challenge these regulations because cities and their police departments should determine what policies best keep their cities safe,” Miner said in a press release.

Miner has been resistant against the DOJ’s efforts to scale back sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agencies. The mayor has repeatedly said the Syracuse Police Department and other city resources will not be used to enforce “anti-immigrant policies.”

Sessions threatened in March to starve sanctuary cities by holding off as much as $4.1 billion in federal grants unless the cities relent.

“It is an unconstitutional demand of the federal government and it is not in keeping with the spirit of the people of Syracuse,” Miner said in the release.

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