CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot followed through on a campaign promise on Wednesday by introducing a plan to eliminate exemptions in Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, which allow police officers to cooperate with federal immigration agents in certain cases.
During budget negotiations earlier this year, Lightfoot angered many Latino aldermen when she tried to link the proposed changes to her 2021 spending plan in order to gain their support. She ultimately agreed to remove the Welcoming City Ordinance changes from her budget plan and introduce the measure on its own at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.READ MORE: Shots Fired At Police In North Austin
“We are a city of immigrants and refugees. We have people that hail from literally every corner of the globe that call the city of Chicago home. It’s important for us to speak our values,” Lightfoot said Wednesday afternoon.
Under the current version of the Welcoming City Ordinance, Chicago Police officers are allowed to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if the name of a person in CPD custody appears in the city’s gang database, if they have a prior felony conviction or pending felony case, or if they have an outstanding criminal warrant.
The mayor’s proposal would eliminate those exceptions, and prohibit city agencies from detaining anyone solely based on their immigration status, or from transferring anyone into ICE custody solely for civil immigration enforcement.
Police also would be barred from setting up a traffic perimeter or providing on-site support to assist federal agents in civil immigration enforcement operations.
Police supervisors would be required to approve any requests for assistance for ICE. If a supervisor determines a federal agency is seeking help enforcing civil immigration laws, the supervisor would be required to decline the request.
The mayor had sought to refer the changes to the newly-created Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights. However, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) used a parliamentary maneuver to send the mayor’s proposed changes to the Welcoming City Ordinance to the Rules Committee, which could delay approval of the measure.
In a statement, Lopez said, “There are real, dangerous consequences from what Lightfoot is proposing.”
“Those few people that are committed to violence and terrorizing our neighborhoods should not be given the same respect and concern we give to those wanting to actually lift up Chicago,” Lopez stated. “I believe firmly that Chicago must remain a sanctuary for all that wish to add to our city’s greatness, regardless of how they got here. However, we must continue to recognize the difference between those undocumented individuals wanting to improve our city versus those that would seek to harm it.”
Lopez’s maneuver angered Lightfoot, with whom he has often butted heads during her time as mayor.
“Alderman Lopez has made a series of racist and offensive statements about immigrants and refugees, and unfortunately today’s no different,” she said.READ MORE: Ed's Driveway: Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), who is co-sponsoring the proposal, tweeted that at least 31 aldermen support the changes to the Welcoming City Ordinance, so Lopez’s maneuver will be “just a speedhump slowing down passage of this important measure to strengthen immigrant protections and divorce local policing from federal immigration enforcement.”
With 31+ aldermen in support, and the mayor's support we'll have it out of Rules in no time. Just a speedhump slowing down passage of this important measure to strengthen immigrant protections and divorce local policing from federal immigration enforcement.
— Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa ✶ (@CDRosa) December 16, 2020
In other business on Wednesday, Lightfoot also introduced an ordinance to increase the penalties for air pollution caused by demolition projects. The current penalties range from $1,000 to $5,000. The mayor’s proposal would call for fines of $5,000 to $10,000 for a first offense, $10,000 to $15,000 for a second offense, and $15,000 to $20,000 for subsequent offenses. If a violation results in injury or death, or is a result of willful and wanton conduct, the fine could be increased to as much as $50,000.
The measure was prompted by the botched demolition of a coal power plant in Little Village in April, sending a massive cloud of dust through the neighborhood.
The ordinance also would increase fines for pollution caused by industrial facilities such as General Iron, a scrap metal recycler planning to move from the largely white Lincoln Park neighborhood to a mostly Latino area on the Southeast Side, where residents have voiced strong opposition to the move.
The mayor also introduced two ordinances intended to “reduce displacement of low- and moderate-income residents” in the Pilsen neighborhood and near the Bloomingdale Trail, also known as The 606.
The first ordinance would prohibit construction of single-family homes and two-flats in a large swath of the Pilsen neighborhood, in an effort to preserve existing apartment buildings. The proposal comes after aldermen voted down a proposed landmark district for the same area of Pilsen, as well as a proposed moratorium on demolitions in Pilsen.
The second ordinance would prohibit the conversion of multi-unit apartment buildings into single-family homes within an area near the popular Bloomingdale Trail, unless the majority of residential buildings on the same block are already single-family homes.
Earlier this year, the City Council passed a ban on demolition projects along the Bloomingdale Trail through Feb. 1, 2021.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Colder And Blustery Sunday Night
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