Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday said he doesn’t think Republican President-elect Donald Trump will cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities, the latest salvo in the mayor’s post-election defense of immigrants here without permission against possible deportation by the incoming White House.
“I don’t believe they’ll do it, because that would mean every major city in the United States would be targeted, and that’s not what an administration will do,” Emanuel said after a City Council meeting.
“When you’re in the White House, it is incoming,” said Emanuel, who worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations. “When they look at all the things they want to get done and all the battles that will be coming — whether the battles they initiate and the ones that come to them — they will make a choice that this is not the battle they want to take on because they have bigger fish to fry, mark my words.”
Trump has pledged to deport millions of immigrants living in the country illegally. The Justice Department released a memo in May saying Chicago could stand to lose nearly $29 million in annual justice grants if found to be in violation of federal laws on detaining people to be turned over for possible deportation. On Wednesday, the mayor declined to say what he would do if Trump takes away that money, calling it a hypothetical that wouldn’t happen.
Emanuel also joined aldermen in a one-sided City Council debate in favor of a resolution reaffirming the city’s status as a welcoming city for immigrants and calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to do the same for Illinois.
The mayor has taken several opportunities since Trump’s Nov. 8 election to reiterate his support for Chicago’s large immigrant community, and he did so again Wednesday, hanging around in council chambers after his budget passed to make comments about the symbolic resolution.
During the 40-minute council debate on the resolution — a discussion that lasted much longer than the brief consideration of Emanuel’s $8.2 billion 2017 budget package — the mayor choked up as he recalled the display in his childhood home of his grandmother’s passport from when she immigrated to America alongside photos of relatives who didn’t make it.
“And it was to remind (my brothers and me) why we were here, why we were fortunate, and why we could not waste our time in this great city and this great country,” he said. “And that we needed to do something to honor those eyes that looked upon us, to honor my grandmother and my grandfather who came here.”
And the mayor said Chicago is standing up for immigrants to stop hate speech and anti-immigrant positions, such as those espoused by some Trump supporters, from becoming acceptable.
“We are normalizing a language and a view, that’s why this resolution is important,” Emanuel said. “Yes, to reaffirm to the children and their families and their parents ‘You’re safe.’ But to stand up for a set of values that does not normalize a sense of identification that ‘You are that … (you are) other.'”
In other City Council business Wednesday, aldermen passed an ordinance prohibiting child sex offenders from spending time in parts of city libraries used for programs for teens or children, unless accompanied by their own children. Violators face expulsion from libraries or arrest, and fines between $500 and $1,000.
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