Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump, published in The Washington Post on Sunday, in which she urged him to "rethink the harmful policies" his administration "is promoting both at the border and within the homeland."
Lightfoot's letter was published the same day immigration raids began in several cities across the country, Chicago included, expected to target 2,000 immigrants, a senior U.S. official told NBC News.
"On Friday, I ordered my city’s police department not to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on any activities within the city of Chicago and not to allow ICE agents access to our police databases," Lightfoot's letter began. She added that Chicago's law department had also issued new protocols advising personnel at city-owned facilities not too cooperate with ICE, and that the city had increased funding for a legal defense fund to assist undocumented residents.
"I took these steps in response to a set of policies from your administration that don’t make us safer or stronger as a nation," Lightfoot wrote. She called for Trump work towards reforming the "broken" immigration system, saying she was "horrified by the treatment and death of children in detention."
One of ten cities that sources said was targeted for the ICE raids beginning Sunday, Chicago is home to 180,000 undocumented people, Lightfoot said.
"Every day, when I talk to immigrants, asylum seekers and advocates, what I hear is fear, confusion and anxiety," she wrote. "Fear of families being separated, confusion about the scope of their rights and anxiety that the next knock on the door, the next traffic stop could irreparably upset the lives they have built for themselves in our city."
"The threats and realities of stepped-up enforcement have not had the deterrent effect you intended, because the people you are targeting are not actually the problem," she continued. "They came to the United States in search of a better life, free from violence, crushing poverty and oppressive governments that restrict their basic rights. They work in our local businesses, they build and repair our streets, buildings and other infrastructure. They are our neighbors, they are our family members, they are part of our community. They contribute to our economy in meaningful ways."
Immigration officers had not confirmed any arrests as of Monday morning, though some in largely Hispanic communities said their neighborhoods were quiet much of the weekend, with more residents staying inside amid the threat of deportations.
Some immigration advocacy groups and activists demonstrated a show of support, with thousands taking to the streets Sunday to protest the raids. Volunteers also canvassed neighborhoods with legal advice, telling undocumented immigrants to not open their doors or let agents into their home without a warrant, to remain silent, to not sign anything they don't understand and to ask law enforcement officials which agency they are from.
Lightfoot had previously said on Wednesday that the city had cut ICE off from access to any Chicago police databases and would not cooperate with the department in any raids.
"Chicago is and will always be a welcoming city that will never tolerate ICE tearing our families apart in our communities. The threat of raids has forced our residents to hide in the shadows, live in constant fear and not go to school or show up for work," Lightfoot said when asked about the raids at a news conference.
"Any such efforts by ICE in our city will be met with fierce resistance from Chicagoans who have been organizing tirelessly in their communities, and with an unshakable resolve to stand with, and never against, our immigrant neighbors," Lightfoot wrote Sunday. "I urge you again, Mr. President, to find your conscience before you do further damage to the lives of these children and families, and to the standing and respect our country has enjoyed in the world."