CHICAGO — Mayors, past and present, long described Chicago as a “Sanctuary City” for immigrants. But Tuesday, amendments were made to the city’s “Welcoming City” ordinance.
The amendments took the legal protections a step further and instituted policies to protect the due-process rights of Chicago’s immigrants.
Miguel Lopez said he lost his brother Jesus Alberto Lopez to deportation last June.
“It’s been a really difficult challenge since he’s been detained and now deported,” Miguel Lopez said.
According to his lawyers, Jesus Alberto Lopez was deprived of due process at a traffic stop. He was detained by police who transferred him to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
His family said the deportation sent them into crisis.
“He was one of the main providers for my parents who have been unemployed due to the pandemic,” Miguel Lopez said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed the Welcoming City Ordinance Tuesday.
“With a stroke of the pen your rights will be at long-last protected,” Lightfoot said.
Chicago Welcoming City Ordinance “forbids police from arresting a person based solely on immigration status, blocks police from providing support to federal immigration enforcement operations, prevents city agencies from requesting, maintaining or sharing immigration status.
“We are a sanctuary city and now we have a robust protection for undocumented immigrants,” Alderman Ariel Reboyras said.
The changes come after years of controversial Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids across the country and in Chicago. The Trump Administration policies on immigration were criticized by human-rights groups. The “zero tolerance’ enforcement at the border, among other things, resulted in thousands of tragic cases of migrant toddlers and very young children forcibly separated from their parents.
Similar separations were reported in Chicago.
“They created a situation where undocumented Chicagoans could be deported before receiving their day in court,” Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said. “Before being able to prove their innocence.”
Tuesday immigrant communities across the city celebrated.
Backers of the ordinance said the protections will protect the vulnerable and assist in Chicago police investigations of criminal activity by making the undocumented or someone related to an undocumented individual less fearful to provide information to city police.