Chicago Bolsters Sanctuary Protections, Activists Want More

Chicago again bolstered its sanctuary policies Wednesday as aldermen approved a plan requiring police to document any requests for assistance from federal immigration agents.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called it “the first step in a longer process of strengthening the city’s immigration protections.”

The new measure also requires Chicago to look at ways to make public facilities, like libraries, safe for residents "regardless of immigration status'' and take steps toward providing immigration information through its non-emergency 311 service.

However, activists said it falls short of what Lightfoot promised during the campaign.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined protesters who gathered outside a press conference involving the new Chicago field office director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “enforcement and removal operations.” 

Chicago's sanctuary policies have limited cooperation between local police and immigration authorities for decades. But it's allowed in some circumstances, like if there's an outstanding criminal warrant.

Lightfoot has said closing the loophole now could jeopardize Chicago's lawsuit against President Donald Trump's administration, which withheld public safety grants from sanctuary cities including Chicago.

Immigrant rights activists said ending any cooperation was necessary protection. They cited a Chicago Sun-Times report Wednesday about an April agreement allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement to "designate certain'' police as “customs officers.”

“It’s troubling because these are loopholes that are not being talked about,” said activist Rey Wences.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said no police are currently customs officers. He said it's not an immigration agreement, but allows joint investigations with federal authorities.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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