CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday signed a measure eliminating loopholes in Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance, prohibiting Chicago police officers from cooperating with federal immigration agents.
“A truly welcoming city means that we have to walk the walk and protect everyone’s due process rights,” Lightfoot said before signing the update to the Welcoming City ordinance.READ MORE: Suspect Shot, Wounded By Police On Lower Wacker Drive; 2 Others Taken Into Custody After Being Found In Vehicle Taken In Carjacking
Aldermen voted last month to approve the mayor’s plan to close loopholes in the Welcoming City ordinance that had allowed police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in certain limited circumstances.
Before making the changes Lightfoot made official on Tuesday, the Welcoming City Ordinance allowed Chicago police 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 and City Council have now eliminated those exceptions, and prohibited city agencies from detaining anyone solely based on their immigration status, or from transferring anyone into ICE custody solely for civil immigration enforcement.
“Being a welcoming city means being a city that embraces people equally with open arms; where no one has to fear being their authentic self walking down the street, doing business, earning a living, and taking care of their family; a place where people can come and know that they are safe and protected, no matter who they are or where they come from,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said more than 30% of the city’s population speaks a language other than English at home.
“Chicago has been a welcoming city and a city of immigrants since its very founding,” she said. “Chicago has been built and molded and charted by all those who came to our city to build better life for themselves and for their families, and that heritage is a source of our greatness.”READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Brief Warm Up Is On The Way, Snow Showers Return
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), one of the lead sponsors of the update to the Welcoming City ordinance, said it was “a beautiful day” to see that Chicago Police will now be barred from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under any circumstances.
Supporters of the ordinance have said no one should have to fear calling 911 or cooperate with police because they fear officers will have them deported if they discover they are an undocumented immigrant.
“As we know, too often, Black and Brown people and working people in the city and across this nation are easily criminalized,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “Do not be afraid to call 911 if you’re undocumented, or if a family member is undocumented, because there’s no way that that phone call will result in you or your family member being turned over by CPD to ICE, and that will make all of us so much safer.”
Lightfoot shrugged off criticism that the changes to the Welcoming City ordinance would protect undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds rather than those who are law-abiding.
“It’s a complete red herring,” Lightfoot said.
“Every time we do something to help the people in our community that are the most vulnerable, there are always going to be those who are critics and raise the specter of some horrible thing happening. That’s not who we are as a city, and more importantly there’s no evidence that somehow immigrants or refugees commit more crimes than people who were born here in this country. That is just a bogus argument that has no bearing in fact.”
Under the changes to the Welcoming City Ordinance, police also will be barred from setting up a traffic perimeter or providing on-site support to assist federal agents in civil immigration enforcement operations. Police supervisors will 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 will be required to decline the request.MORE NEWS: View Live Radar
Two more provisions were added to the mayor’s proposal after she first introduced it in December; One requires the Chicago Police Department to review and certify within 90 days any applications for a so-called “U-Visa” available to undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes and help police with the investigation. The other replaces outdated language in the city’s code that refers to people who hold some city licenses as citizens, even though citizenship isn’t a requirement to obtain those licenses.