Trump's justice chief criticizes 'sanctuary city' Chicago

The top American law enforcement official Wednesday escalated a war of words with the nation's third largest city Chicago over its resistance to tougher immigration policies.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions's comments were part of efforts to pressure "sanctuary cities" to increase cooperation with immigration enforcement or lose federal funding.

Instead, Chicago last week sued the Trump administration over the funding threats. California, the most populous US state, and the city of San Francisco have also sued.

Speaking in Miami - where "sanctuary" policies were abandoned to retain federal money - Sessions suggested local crime dropped because of the increased cooperation.

He pointed to the July 4 Independence Day holiday weekend, during which he said there were no murders in Miami and 15 in Chicago.

"We cannot continue giving taxpayer money to cities that actively undermine the safety and efficacy of federal law enforcement efforts," Sessions said.

"For the sake of the city, Chicago's leaders need to recommit to policies that punish criminals, instead of protecting them."

The Midwestern city forcefully rejected Sessions's criticisms, asserting that local police should not be coerced to perform federal immigration functions.

"Chicago will continue to stand up proudly as a welcoming city," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, claiming the Trump administration was attacking immigrants.

Trump has repeatedly brought up Chicago's gun violence, which hit a two-decade high last year. In a similar pace there have been some 1,800 shootings this year and more than 420 murders.

The Florida state county that includes Miami has experienced a decline in violent crimes since 2012, predating the Trump administration.

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