Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday that her city has permanently banned U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from accessing the Chicago Police Department’s databases ahead of looming ICE raids to detain undocumented immigrants.
Chicago police “will not team up with ICE to detain any resident,” the mayor said after meeting with business leaders and immigration rights advocates at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “They’re not going to be facilitating or otherwise providing any assistance in any raids ― whether it’s traffic stops [or] additional support. … We have also cut off ICE from any access from any CPD databases and that will remain permanent.”
On June 22, President Donald Trump announced that he would delay his plans for mass deportation roundups in at least 10 major cities, including Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago. He tweeted that he hoped the two-week delay would allow Democrats to “work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”
But The New York Times reported early Thursday that ICE officials plan to launch nationwide raids as soon as this weekend to arrest thousands of immigrants the federal government has ordered deported.
“The two-weeks clock is up, which is what the president had given,” Lightfoot said Wednesday. “We’ve heard some notion that it may start again.”
Before Trump’s first planned raid in June, Lightfoot said the Chicago Police Department would not cooperate with ICE, though Wednesday was the first time she said the city would permanently ban ICE from accessing police databases.
“Chicago is and will always be a welcoming city that will never tolerate ICE tearing our families apart,” she said. “I don’t want our immigrant residents to be fearful of being in Chicago. I don’t want people not going to work, pursuing their daily activities or their children being fearful that their parents or guardians are gonna be taken from them.”
Many immigrant rights groups in Chicago, which has long been considered a “sanctuary city,” have said the mayor is not doing enough to prevent the raids and are calling on her to issue an executive order that denies access to Chicago databases to any agency under the Department of Homeland Security, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Organizers reportedly said the order they’re proposing wouldn’t include anything that Lightfoot hasn’t already said she’s doing, but it would set things in stone.
“We have seen flip-flopping where [Lightfoot] says one thing to one audience and then she says something different to the community groups,” Rey Wences, of Organized Communities Against Deportation, told the Sun-Times, though he didn’t cite a specific example. “We are feeling conflicted but not surprised.”
Lightfoot ran her mayoral campaign on a promise to strengthen Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance by removing loopholes. Under the city’s sanctuary ordinance, Chicago police are allowed to cooperate with ICE if the targeted people are in the city’s gang database, have pending felony prosecutions or prior felony convictions, or have an outstanding criminal warrant.
Immigration rights activists, Hispanic city council members, and the American Civil Liberties Union have all called for those exemptions to be removed. Lightfoot’s ban on police-ICE cooperation also includes use of the city’s gang databases, which are notoriously inaccurate.
To prepare for the raids, civil rights groups nationwide are encouraging immigrants to read up on their legal rights, which Lightfoot also encouraged on Wednesday. The ACLU says undocumented immigrants are not legally required to grant ICE agents access to their homes without a specific kind of warrant. If arrested, everyone is entitled to remain silent and to access a government-appointed attorney.
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