In February, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrest a foreign national during a targeted  operation aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles.

(Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

The City of Denver will join a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its threats to withhold federal grants for law enforcement as part of an escalating fight over the way the city interacts with federal immigration officials.

Mayor Michael Hancock is joining a few dozen other mayors in the lawsuit, city officials told Colorado Public Radio. The leader is Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who launched the initial effort near the start of August. Hancock said he has been weighing whether to join the lawsuit over the past several weeks and is not worried about angering the Trump administration.

“The bullying tactics of the president and his White House continue … we felt it was very important to us to not allow Chicago to go it alone,” Hancock said. “Whether Jeff Sessions is mad or the president is mad does not relieve them of their responsibility to follow the law.”

Previous court rulings have blocked the Trump administration from halting federal dollars to city because of their immigration enforcement.

Denver receives about $900,00 annually in JAG grants from the federal government, which represents 0.04 percent of the city’s overall budget. About half of that money goes to police, mostly for equipment, a city spokeswoman said. The deadline to apply for some of those grants is next week and Denver plans to submit another application.

A compromise reached earlier this week between Hancock and the council created a new law that took several steps to protect undocumented immigrants living in Denver — including banning city employees from questioning residents about immigration status.

Though Hancock’s attorneys believe the new law still meets requirements set forth by the federal government on receiving federal dollars, the mayor acknowledges the city's risk on federal grants.

“The reality is, we may lose federal funding,” Hancock said, at a press conference earlier in August. “We will stand by our values because when this administration is over, that’s what we have: our values.”

The 36 other cities joining the suit include Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle.

Justice officials said earlier this week in response to Denver’s new ordinance that making immigration law enforcement harder is ultimately making the whole community less safe.

“As the Attorney General has said, when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” said Devin O’Malley, spokesman at the Justice Department. “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted for criminal offenses put whole communities at risk — especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.”

Here’s a complete list of cities, jurisdictions and others joining in the lawsuit:

  • The County of Santa Clara, California 
  • The City of Austin, Texas 
  • The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts 
  • The City of Chelsea, Massachusetts 
  • The City and County of Denver, Colorado  
  • The District of Columbia 
  • El Paso County, Texas 
  • The City of Houston, Texas 
  • The International City/County Management Association 
  • The International Municipal Lawyers Association 
  • The City of Iowa City, Iowa 
  • The City of Ithaca, New York 
  • King County, Washington 
  • The City of Lawrence, Massachusetts 
  • The City of Los Angeles, California 
  • The City of Madison, Wisconsin 
  • The City of Menlo Park, California 
  • The Metropolitan Area Planning Council 
  • The National Association of Counties 
  • The National League of Cities 
  • The City of New York, New York 
  • The City of Oakland, California 
  • The City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
  • The City of Portland, Oregon 
  • The City of Providence, Rhode Island 
  • The City of Rochester, New York 
  • The City of  Sacramento, California 
  • The City of Salinas, California 
  • The City and County of San Francisco, California 
  • The City of San José, California 
  • The City of Santa Ana, California 
  • The County of Santa Cruz, California 
  • The City of Santa Fe, New Mexico 
  • The City of Seattle, Washington 
  • The City of Somerville, Massachusetts  
  • The County of Sonoma, California 
  • The City of Syracuse, New York 
  • Travis County, Texas 
  • The City of Tucson, Arizona 
  • The City of Union City, New Jersey 
  • The United States Conference of Mayors 
  • The City of West Hollywood, California