Rule changes move forward for police, ICE cooperation
Would require documentation of help request
A plan to require Chicago police to document requests for help from federal immigration officials moved forward Friday, setting the stage for the city to adopt new rules that fall short of the complete end to such cooperation that some aldermen and activists want.
Though Mayor Lori Lightfoot campaigned for mayor on a platform of closing loopholes in Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance that allow police to provide information in some instances to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, she has not followed through since taking office in May.
The city is engaged in ongoing litigation against President Donald Trump’s administration, which withheld federal public safety grant money from Chicago and other socalled sanctuary cities. To change the city’s rules now by ending the carve-outs would jeopardize that lawsuit, according to the Lightfoot administration.
Instead, Lightfoot introduced an ordinance last month aimed at codifying limits on such cooperation and making sure there’s a record of the interactions and requests from ICE for help. The mayor’s office called the package “the first step in a longer process of strengthening the city’s immigration protections, which must include eliminating exceptions to the Welcoming City Ordinance.”
Nubia Willman, director of the city’s Office of New Americans, said Friday that Lightfoot will act to remove the loopholes once the litigation is resolved.
Southwest Side Ald. Michael Rodriguez, 22nd, said he’s confident the mayor will follow through.
“We received a public commitment today,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve received private commitments from the mayor that she’s on board with ending the carve-outs. She campaigned on it, and the same is true for me. I campaigned on it, I publicly committed to it today. So I’m going to hold myself accountable, and I know the mayor will as well, to work with us on the carveouts once the litigation gets past us.”
Chief of Patrol Fred Waller on Friday told aldermen that police no longer remain on the scene if ICE agents carry out immigration raids for noncriminal activities. Video of police watching immigration agents carry out a raid in September on the Southeast Side have alienated residents there, who now fear calling 911 to report crimes, according to Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th.
Friday’s vote sets up the full City Council to likely pass the changes next week.
Aldermen and activists have long pushed to fix what they said were the shortcomings in the Welcoming City Ordinance.
There are currently four factors that allow police to provide information about people living in this country illegally to ICE officials: when the people living in the U.S. without legal permission have outstanding criminal warrants; when they have past felony convictions or a pending felony charge; or when their names appear in the city’s controversial gang database.
After her election, Lightfoot said she opposed the “knee jerk” closure of the loopholes because she wanted to take a more deliberative look at fixing the gang database.
Lightfoot did order the Chicago Police Department to deny ICE access to all the department’s databases related to federal civil immigration enforcement, arguing that move addressed activists’ concerns. But immigrant supporters said she didn’t go far enough to eliminate the possibility of police cooperation.
Also Friday, the Health Committee approved the mayor’s nomination of Allison Arwady to be city Health Commissioner. Aldermen had previously blocked Arwady’s appointment because many were angry the mayor won’t reopen city-run mental health clinics.