Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday continued his post-election push to publicly oppose president-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policies, promising “Chicago always will be a sanctuary city.”
“To all those who are, after Tuesday’s election, very nervous and filled with anxiety as we’ve spoken to, you are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago,” Emanuel said while appearing with immigrants rights advocates at a news conference to discuss expanding mental health services for those fearful Trump will deport them or their families.
“Now, administrations may change, but our values and principals as it relates to inclusion does not,” Emanuel added. “People from all faiths, all backgrounds and all parts of the world have beaten their path to the city of Chicago because Chicago offers them and, more importantly, as the son and the grandson of an immigrant, their children and grandchildren, a chance at the American dream.”
The mayor’s comments came after Trump told “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday that he will seek to deport as many as three million immigrants in America illegally who have criminal records.
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump said in the interview. “But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”
Emanuel has not promised to protect undocumented immigrants with criminal records. But he repeatedly talked in recent days about the city’s efforts more generally to stand up for immigrants’ rights.
The morning after Trump’s victory, Emanuel took the rare step of giving a speech at the start of Wednesday morning’s City Council meeting. The mayor argued the multicultural slate of politicians who won in Illinois on Tuesday shows the strength of the immigrant ideals he said give the area its vitality.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Emanuel said he understands undocumented immigrants’ anxiety about Trump’s win and pledged forcefully to fight for immigrants’ rights in light of the anti-immigrant rhetoric Trump used throughout his campaign.
The mayor noted Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city and said he will defend it.
“We are a welcoming city (for immigrants), not just in the language and the rhetoric the mayor used, but it’s clear in the ordinance I passed, and we will stay a welcoming city,” he said.
“Do not lose hope, because America embraces you,” he added Wednesday, a remark aimed at immigrant families who have been waiting for an immigration reform deal that could protect them from deportation.
And on Sunday, Emanuel issued a statement urging immigrants with concerns about their rights to call the city’s 311 center to get information about legal resources and other programs at their disposal.
Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city stretches back to 1985, when Mayor Harold Washington issued an executive order prohibiting city agencies from inquiring about immigration status when providing services. That included police not asking crime victims or witnesses about their immigration status.
Emanuel went a step further in 2012, sponsoring an ordinance the City Council passed that said Chicago police could turn over to federal immigration agents information on undocumented immigrants only if they are wanted on a criminal warrant or have been convicted of a serious crime. And the City Council passed an Emanuel-endorsed ordinance this year to provide undocumented immigrants municipal ID cards to help them
The Chicago law prohibits police from providing U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement officials access to people who are in the Police Department’s custody, unless the police are “acting pursuant to a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law.” In practice, that means cops aren’t supposed to turn over illegal immigrants unless they are wanted on a criminal warrant of have serious criminal convictions.
Chicago’s law also prohibits cops from allowing ICE agents to sue their facilities for interviews or investigation. And it bars on-duty cops from responding to ICE inquiries or talking to ICE officials about a person’s custody status or release date.
City workers of any kind also are barred from disclosing the citizenship or immigration status of people “except as otherwise provided under applicable federal law.”
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