‘A Welcome Mat for You’: Emanuel Reaffirms Chicago’s Status as Sanctuary City Amid Anxiety Over Trump’s Deportation Plan

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined city leaders and healthcare officials Monday morning to offer support to undocumented immigrants and students in light of President-elect Donald Trump's recent announcement detailing his immigration plans. 

Chicago has long been a sanctuary city and Emanuel pledged that will continue, despite any political change. 

"The city of Chicago is your home, you are always welcome in this city. Always," he said. "From its first day, this city was a city of immigrants, its future is a city of immigrants, its people who come here because they know that in Chicago their struggles, their sacrifice on behalf of their children can be realized." 

In his first interview since being named president-elect, Trump told CBS’s "60 Minutes" he's willing to deport or incarcerate 2 million to 3 million people in the country illegally who "are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers." That number is lower than the 11 million he originally insisted he would deport during the presidential race.

Trump also said his plans for a "wall" on the southern border of the country still stands, but part of it will be a fence. 

Still, his promise conflicted with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that "we are not planning on erecting a deportation force."

"I think we should put people's minds at ease," Ryan said, noting the top priority is really border security.

Anxiety and concern have been reported among many immigrant communities across the city and the nation. 

Mental health hotlines across the state have received an influx of calls since Trump was elected to be the nation’s 45th president, according to the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition. Gutierrez claimed calls to suicide centershave increased 200 percent in Illinois.

“It’s scary,” said one concerned resident, Leslie Alcantar. “It feels like they could take my mom, my dad, my family.” 

Still, Trump stressed Sunday that those protesting him and his campaign message across the country shouldn't be afraid. He also demanded that any of his supporters who are harassing people or destroying proptery to "stop it."

"I would say don't do it, it's terrible," Trump said. "I am so saddened to hear that. And I say 'Stop it.' If it helps, and I will say this, and I'll say it right to the cameras. Stop it."

Emanuel, Congressman Luis Gutierrez and health officials reassured residents during a news conference at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital that access to the city's public services, education and healthcare will continue for undocumented immigrants. 

"Your legal status does not determine whether your kids can go to school, your legal status does not determine whether you can access public services," Emanuel said.

"We have a welcome mat for you and you are allowed in this city," he added.  

Rep. Lisa Hernandez revealed plans to file an emergency public health funding bill to provide resources to undocumented children. 

"We must set aside politics," she said. "We must."

Gutierrez stressed that he will continue to fight for immigrant rights in Washington. 

"We can work together to heal and rebuild our nation in defense of our immigrant community," he said. 

"The elections are over, now becomes the difficult part of moving legislation forward," he added. "There are good men and women on all sides of the aisle. We must ask them to act as Americans first...Let’s have an immigration policy that is truly an American immigration policy. We can still do that."

Gutierrez, who has previously been arrested during a rally advocating for immigration reform, added that while he hopes legislating and organizing will lead to a productive future, that is not the only avenue for change.

"Let me be absolutely clear, there are people ready to fight," he said. "We will legislate first, we will organize first at the legislative level, but that is not the only venue. There are many avenues to success."

As protests continued outside Trump Tower on Sunday for the fifth straight day in Chicago, city officials are reminding those that there are mental health and legal resources available and to call 3-1-1 for more information.

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