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Emanuel Pushes New Limits On Detaining Undocumented Immigrants

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (left) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel (right) discuss a proposed ordinance to limit when Chicago police can detain a person due to their immigration status. (Credit: CBS)

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (left) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel (right) discuss a proposed ordinance to limit when Chicago police can detain a person due to their immigration status. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday outlined a proposed ordinance he hopes will reinforce Chicago’s reputation as an “immigrant friendly” city.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the new ordinance would put a stop to the practice of police officers turning over people stopped for minor offenses to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, if there was a deportation order on them.

“If they’re checking, they’re only checking for criminal background, not for legal status,” Emanuel said. “So, both to the individual resident and to the police officer, a person’s immigration status is no business of ours.”

The new ordinance is designed to ensure undocumented immigrants would only be detained by Chicago police if they are wanted on a criminal warrant, or if they have been convicted of a serious crime and remain in the U.S. illegally.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

“If somebody has a criminal background, I want them in jail or out of the city,” Emanuel said.

The mayor said he doesn’t want undocumented residents to be afraid of having contact with the police.

“The driving purpose was because I want the city of Chicago to go on record as having a different immigration policy. We welcome immigrants because it’s in our self-interest and consistent with our values,” Emanuel said. “In addition to that, I can’t be advocating for the community to work with the Police Department if people are worried about their immigration status, so they don’t report a crime.”

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said the ordinance is a law enforcement measure, since it will make law-abiding immigrants less hesitant to call police of they see a crime.

“I want to make clear, this isn’t a question of cuddling up to criminals. We detest, hate, and want ourselves ridded of criminals. And by doing this, the police will know which ones to go after,” Gutierrez said.

The city would also continue a practice of prohibiting city agencies from inquiring about the immigration status of people seeking services, and police would not ask about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or other law-abiding people.