Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday that her city has permanently banned U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from accessing the Chicago Police Department’s databases ahead of looming ICE raids to detain undocumented immigrants.
Chicago police “will not team up with ICE to detain any resident,” the mayor said after meeting with business leaders and immigration rights advocates at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “They’re not going to be facilitating or otherwise providing any assistance in any raids ― whether it’s traffic stops [or] additional support. … We have also cut off ICE from any access from any CPD databases and that will remain permanent.”
While Lightfoot has continued to voice opposition to ICE-police cooperation, city council members and immigration rights activists remain frustrated because the mayor refuses to put such a ban in writing.
Aldermen and undocumented immigrant activists in Chicago, which has long been considered a “sanctuary city,” have asked Lightfoot to issue an executive order that denies access to Chicago databases to any agency under the Department of Homeland Security. Organizers said the order they’re proposing would set things in stone, but Lightfoot has declined to sign the order.
“I think there needs to be a clarification around what [Lightfoot’s] plans are,” Rey Wences, an organizer with Organized Communities Against Deportations who helped draft the executive order, told HuffPost. “Press conferences and statements are good to get the word out. ... But ultimately, we know that this also comes down to policy.”
City leaders and immigration activists held a rally in Chicago on Saturday, informing people of their rights ahead of expected ICE raids.
On June 22, President Donald Trump announced that he would delay his plans for mass deportation roundups in at least 10 major cities, including Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago. He tweeted that he hoped the two-week delay would allow Democrats to “work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”
But The New York Times reported early Thursday that ICE officials plan to launch nationwide raids as soon as Sunday to arrest thousands of immigrants the federal government has ordered deported. Trump later confirmed it on Friday.
“The two-weeks clock is up, which is what the president had given,” Lightfoot said Wednesday. “We’ve heard some notion that it may start again.”
Before Trump’s first planned raid in June, Lightfoot said the Chicago Police Department would not cooperate with ICE, though Wednesday was the first time she said the city would permanently ban ICE from accessing police databases. Other agencies under DHS still have access to the databases.
“Chicago is and will always be a welcoming city that will never tolerate ICE tearing our families apart,” she said. “I don’t want our immigrant residents to be fearful of being in Chicago. I don’t want people not going to work, pursuing their daily activities or their children being fearful that their parents or guardians are gonna be taken from them.”
Lightfoot ran her mayoral campaign on a promise to strengthen Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance by removing loopholes. Under the city’s sanctuary ordinance, Chicago police are allowed to cooperate with ICE if the targeted people are in the city’s gang database, have pending felony prosecutions or prior felony convictions, or have an outstanding criminal warrant.
Immigration rights activists, Hispanic city council members, and the American Civil Liberties Union have all called for those exemptions to be removed. Lightfoot’s ban on police-ICE cooperation also includes use of the city’s gang databases, which are notoriously inaccurate.
On Friday, the mayor announced a package of executive actions meant to provide additional protections to the city’s immigrant and refugee communities. Those actions, detailed in a press release, include formally halting ICE’s access to CPD databases, providing direct guidance and protocols to all city-owned facilities, and investing an additional $250,000 into Chicago’s Legal Protection Fund. The release does not include the proposed executive order.
To prepare for the raids, civil rights groups nationwide are encouraging immigrants to read up on their legal rights, which Lightfoot also encouraged. The ACLU says undocumented immigrants are not legally required to grant ICE agents access to their homes without a specific judicial warrant. If arrested, everyone is entitled to remain silent and to access a government-appointed attorney. However, if detained specifically by ICE or Border Patrol, a person has the right to hire a lawyer, but the government is not legally required to provide one.
If you are undocumented, read up on your rights here.
This story has been updated with a statement from Rey Wences and with information about Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s executive actions.