Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday made his latest announcement on the immigrant rights front: a task force that will create a website.
The “Chicago Is With You” group will be led by three Illinois Democrats who’ve been vocal about President-elect Donald Trump’s threats to deport millions of immigrants in the country illegally: the mayor, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago and Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield. The group will work to set up a website that will serve as a clearinghouse of sorts for information about immigration resources.
The site also will try to connect so-called Dreamers — those who benefited from President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that offered legal protection to about 742,000 people who were brought to the U.S. as children and stayed here illegally — with volunteers who will try to get them information about their immigration status and other questions, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
Task forces often are ways for public officials to try to prove to constituents they are taking a problem seriously. This one will “collaborate on mental health, legal services, diversity training for employers, and education to ensure the city is delivering comprehensive services to immigrant, refugees and other disenfranchised communities,” according to the news release.
Emanuel has shown a singular focus on publicizing his efforts to stand against Trump on the immigration issue. Joining other mayors in “sanctuary cities” with large immigrant populations around the U.S., Emanuel has promised to protect immigrants from deportation.
On Monday, the mayor revealed that he had spoken to Trump a couple of weeks ago and said he was “upfront, honest” with the president-elect about what he thinks is important, including the fact that Chicago is a sanctuary city “and there’s a reason it’s a sanctuary city.”
Two weeks ago, Emanuel hung around at the City Council meeting after more pressing business was finished to join aldermen in a one-sided discussion in favor of a nonbinding resolution reaffirming the city’s status as a safe haven for people in the country illegally.
And the morning after Trump’s victory, Emanuel took the rare step of giving a speech at the start of a council meeting to point to the multicultural slate of politicians who won election in Illinois in November as evidence of the strength of the immigrant ideals he said gives the area its vitality.
The mayor also appeared with Gutierrez following the election. Speaking directly to people “nervous and filled with anxiety” because of Trump’s win, Emanuel said, “You are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago.”
For Emanuel, moves like creating the task force make political sense given his rocky relationship with Latinos on immigration issues. In the Obama White House, Emanuel advised against pursuing immigration reform in the first year, having once called it the “third rail of politics.” In the Clinton White House, Emanuel suggested hard-line immigration policies to achieve “record deportations of criminal aliens.”
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