Chicago to remain sanctuary city for immigrants despite Trump’s threat

Print

Chicago and Cook County officials said Monday they are maintaining the city’s “sanctuary city” status despite president-elect Donald Trump’s threat to revoke federal funding from cities that refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to arrest immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally.

The sanctuary status is creating a clash with the federal government on immigration enforcement by cities and states across the country. Since Trump’s election, several cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have also declared continued sanctuary status.

“I want to assure all our families that Chicago is and will remain a Sanctuary City,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement released Sunday. A spokesman for Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said Monday there have been no discussions about changing the county’s status.

During his campaign and as part of his plan for his first 100 days in office, Trump has vowed to suspend all federal funds from sanctuary cities, where officials have directed their local police departments and jails not to comply with requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain people so they can be transferred to federal custody.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Emanuel said during a city council meeting Wednesday that he is not afraid Trump will cut off assistance to Chicago, despite fears by some aldermen that funding for infrastructure and health care could be slashed for the city where many officials have been outspoken against Trump. U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) also expressed concern about Trump’s threat.

In Chicago, a recent city ordinance passed in September explicitly prohibits police officers from threatening suspects using their immigration statuses, adding to an older ordinance that prohibits police from asking suspects about their status.

In Cook County, where a 2011 ordinance directs undocumented immigrants who have been jailed to be released regardless of ICE requests to detain them, officials are determining the possible effects of Trump’s plan.

“We’ve begun the process of determining the County’s exposure, based on our strongly-held position as a sanctuary city, should the new administration choose to pull the federal funds it now sends to Cook County,” said Frank Shuftan, Preckwinkle’s spokesman, in a statement. “The President-elect’s threat is obviously of major concern to us … To date there has been no discussion about altering the ordinance.”

Trump, who lambasted undocumented immigrants during his campaign, as well as other advocates of stricter immigration enforcement contend that sanctuary cities are ignoring federal directives and harming public safety. The president-elect on his campaign trail cited the example of Kathryn Steinle, a woman who was killed on a San Francisco pier in 2015, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant with a criminal record.

Officials in sanctuary cities have explained their actions by saying they would not use their resources to potentially disrupt local communities.

Under President Barack Obama’s administration, ICE has enlisted the cooperation of local authorities by issuing detainers, or requests sent to local police departments and jails when the federal agency learns a person who may be undocumented has been booked on suspicion of committing a crime. The detainer, which is not a warrant, asks the local agency to continue holding a suspect after his or her release time, until ICE agents arrive to take custody.

The use of detainers, which has been controversial and sometimes ensnares citizens and legal residents in deportation proceedings, was ruled unlawful by a federal court in the Northern District of Illinois in September.

U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee declared detainers issued by Chicago’s ICE field office void, ruling in a class action lawsuit filed by Chicago’s National Immigrant Justice Center that ICE’s issuance of detainers exceeded the agency’s ability to use warrantless arrests. That ruling has not yet taken effect while the case is appealed to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal.

The decision not to honor ICE detainers is one of the ways local authorities have defied the federal government as immigration reform stalls nationwide. Beginning in 2013, undocumented immigrants in Illinois have been allowed to apply for driver’s licenses. Illinois is also one of several states that allow undocumented residents to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.