Meet the new boss in the Windy City; she’s the same as the old boss.
As Immigration and Customs Enforcement prepares for a series of raids on illegal immigrants across the United States, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted that her city “will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement actions” and that she had taken “concrete steps” to throw a wrench in the works, including ensuring the city’s police superintendent had terminated ICE’s access to the city’s immigration database.
“We are all aware of the threat from President Trump regarding raids by ICE, and in response, Chicago has taken concrete steps to support our immigrant communities,” Mayor Lightfoot said Friday in what — if she was not a Democrat– would be described as a “tweetstorm.”
“I have directed — and Superintendent [Eddie] Johnson has confirmed — that CPD has terminated ICE’s access to CPD’s databases related to federal immigration enforcement activities,” she continued.
“I have also personally spoken with ICE leadership in Chicago and voiced my strong objection to any such raids. Further, I reiterated that CPD will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement actions.”
Lightfoot said that “Chicago will always be a welcoming city and a champion for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities” and directed anyone who was concerned to a link about the raids from the National Immigrant Justice Center.
2/ I have directed – and Superintendent Johnson has confirmed – that CPD has terminated ICE's access to CPD's databases related to federal immigration enforcement activities.
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) June 21, 2019
4/ Chicago will always be a welcoming city and a champion for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities, and I encourage any resident in need of legal aid to contact the National Immigrant Justice Center (@NIJC). More info here: https://t.co/NTMAmhmBbn
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) June 21, 2019
How “concrete” these “concrete steps” are — at least in terms of foiling the raids — is probably a matter of some debate.
The 2,000 families reportedly being targeted in the weekend raids that will be conducted across 10 major cities including Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami and New York, are subject to deportation orders.
Furthermore, given the sensitivity of the matter, one assumes that ICE wasn’t expecting these cities to be welcoming places for law enforcement. In fact, most of the mayors of these locales have made similar statements.
Statement on Reports of Increased Immigration Enforcement pic.twitter.com/T2ik0Kpici
— Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young (@mayorbcyoung) June 21, 2019
The President should understand that not only are these threats cruel and antithetical to our American values, they are actually making our communities less safe by sending more residents into hiding, cut off from resources, support, and opportunity.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 21, 2019
A word to @realDonaldTrump: New Yorkers won’t be divided by a sick plot to tear families apart and force immigrants into the shadows.
We KNOW our city is stronger, safer and more prosperous than ever BECAUSE of our immigrant communities. https://t.co/6F4AQP9rqU
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 22, 2019
Furthermore, even with the president’s tweets on the matter, the government is being circumspect on just what the raids will entail.
….long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
“Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations before the conclusion of those actions,” ICE spokesperson Matthew Bourke said of the raids, according to The Hill.
“As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who have received criminal convictions; have pending criminal charges; are determined to be a national security or public safety threat; or are an immigration fugitive.”
But that’s the thing: Chicago has a long and proud (perhaps not the right word) tradition of resisting any attempt to enforce immigration law within its borders.
Back during the days of Rahm Emanuel’s administration of the city, Chicago refused to work with ICE on illegal immigrants that were in police custody — and amazingly, touted this as something that makes the Illinois metropolis more secure.
“Today’s opinion in favor of Chicago and against the Trump Justice Department marks a major win for all Chicagoans and a significant victory for public safety,” Emanuel said after a Trump administration initiative to deny certain public safety grants to sanctuary city was permanently enjoined by a federal judge.
One can understand the urge to fight the Trump administration on a defunding order because they had denied ICE access to its jails or refused to cooperate with them on a law enforcement matter. To then paint the issue as one of “public safety” takes a certain level of hubris that induces eyebrows to raise.
That lawsuit, at least, had some level of practical effect upon law enforcement efforts. Less efficacious were the times that Emanuel declared his city a “Trump-free zone” after the president ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as if the former mayor was going to station police battalions at O’Hare with orders to block the runways at the first sight of Air Force One.
Lightfoot’s tweetstorm has more the ring of the latter than the former. I’m sure that her “strong objection to any such raids” could have been noted before this all began, and one would assume — given what’s already transpired both in federal court and public discourse — that ICE’s access to the city’s databases had long since been terminated.
However, it’s worth noting that Lightfoot, just one month ago, took control of a city that has consistently had a crime rate much higher than the national average and which has seen population loss for four straight years; in 2015 and 2016, it was the only city in the U.S. top 10 to see a loss.
One can assume these facts aren’t unconnected. And while a conspicuous Democrat can’t come out and support ICE raids against those who have deportation orders — usually individuals who have decided reason not to be in this country — it might help her image if she sat this one out, particularly given where her city stacks up.