Emanuel says Chicago to remain a sanctuary city

By Bia Medious

Five days into his presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order targeting sanctuary cities such as Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spent every day since vehemently reaffirming Chicago’s commitment in both words and actions.

“I want to be clear, we’re going to stay a sanctuary city,” Emanuel said during a Jan. 25 press conference held in response to the announcement.

The executive order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” authorizes federal funds to be withheld from sanctuary jurisdictions offering protections to undocumented immigrants and refugees, except as mandated by law.

“The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

Ironically, Spicer’s announcement of the order happened just as Chicago’s City Council almost unanimously passed a resolution, 47–2, affirming support “to honor and protect rights of all residents” without regard to immigration status, among other categories. Voting against the resolution were 38th Ward Alderman Nicholas Sposato and 41st Ward Alderman Anthony Napolitano, where the City vowed to “vigorously oppose all federal efforts that conflict with these commitments.” Several aldermen spoke out in support of the matter.

“This is something that we have to continually speak out against, even if it means that our federal funding is threatened,” said Joe Moore, the 49th Ward Alderman. “You should not give in to threats and we should not give in to any demagogue who has somehow accidentally found his way into the White House.”

“I just believe we have to resist,” said 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar who introduced the resolution. “I understand that it’s easy in today’s climate to pick on one group and pit them against one another, but just remember the refugees that we resettle is part of our humanitarian efforts to help people. It’s not about Democrats and Republicans.”

Ameya Pawar
“We have to take the demagogue at his word,” Alderman Ameya Pawar says to City Council before voting on the resolution. (Bia Medious/MEDILL)

“We are the great metropolis of Chicago that welcomes everyone and has done so since its very founding,” said Michele Smith, the 43rd Ward Alderman and one of the resolution’s 11 sponsors. “We’re going to continue to stand for it until we are once again assured that those rights are being protected.”

On Jan. 30, the mayor reaffirmed the city’s commitment at a community roundtable on immigration alongside community activists, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. They discussed the sanctuary resolution, the immigrant legal defense fund, and the municipal ID card that the city will begin issuing later this year.

Luis Gutierrez
Chicago is a fourth amendment city. You want someone? Go to court, get a warrant and pick them up. But don’t expect our Chicago Police Department, in our city, to become immigration agents,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez says during the community immigration roundtable held at Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy. (Bia Medious/MEDILL)

“When you come from Poland or Pakistan, India and Ireland, or whether it’s Mexico and Moldova, where my grandfather came [from], Chicago says welcome,” said Emanuel. “The actions of President Trump turn on the head upside-down what we stand for.”

Photo at top: “There is no stranger among us,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel says. (Bia Medious/MEDILL)