CHICAGO – Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today his intention to introduce a Welcoming City Ordinance that builds on efforts to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the country by incorporating basic protections for undocumented Chicagoans who have not been convicted of a serious crime and are not wanted on a criminal warrant.
“This Welcoming City ordinance will make Chicago a national leader in welcoming those who play by the rules, contribute to our economy and help make Chicago the incredible city that was envisioned by its first immigrant settlers,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This will prevent law abiding Chicagoans from being unfairly detained and deported, and will ensure that Chicago is a welcoming, multicultural global city where people have access to services they need to contribute to our city.”
The ordinance builds on an existing ordinance and longtime City policy that prohibits agencies from inquiring about the immigration status of people seeking City services, and provides that the Chicago Police Department will not question crime victims, witnesses and other law-abiding residents about their legal status. It will now be expanded to ensure that undocumented Chicagoans will only be detained if they are wanted on a criminal warrant by local or federal authorities, if they have been convicted of a serious crime and remain in the United States illegally, or if they are otherwise a clear threat to public safety or national security.
The ordinance provides for CPD training in conjunction with immigrant advocacy groups to build trust within immigrant communities; and the development of public marketing materials that outline the services that law abiding immigrants can safely access in the city of Chicago. CPD will continue to cooperate with federal authorities in investigating and apprehending violent criminals who may be undocumented immigrants.
“We know from the experience around the country that enlisting police and local governments in enforcing federal civil law undermines public safety, wastes precious and scarce law enforcement resources, and weakens the bonds of trust between police and the communities they serve and protect, “ said U. S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-04). “ In Chicago, we do things a little differently because we put public safety above political stunts and we put creating a united, cohesive society over trying to draw dividing lines. I am so proud that the Chicago tradition of forward looking immigrant policies continues and is made all the more solid by Mayor Emanuel.”
“This ordinance will ensure that the city of Chicago continues to be a place where immigrants can thrive and contribute. We are grateful for the mayor’s leadership and we hope other cities will look to Chicago’s ordinance as a model,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center.
"There is a difference between people who come here to contribute to the well-being of their families and in the process contribute to the well-being of their city, with those who engage in criminal activity, and in the process, destroy our quality of life," stated Juan Rangel, CEO of The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO). "This new ordinance makes that distinction even clearer. All residents of Chicago, regardless of their immigration status, should feel secure in reporting any and all crimes without fear of repercussions against them."
“Chicago’s depends on the vibrancy and economic stability that the immigrant community brings to the city,” said Lawrence Benito, ICIRR’s Chief Executive Officer. “Making sure that our city’s law enforcement resources are focused on serious crimes that harm immigrants and natives alike, and that immigrants and their families are not subjected to racial profiling, will strengthen the relationship between Chicago Police and immigrant communities and make our entire city safer.”
Since the creation of the Office of New Americans (ONA), the City has strengthened support for immigrant communities, entrepreneurs and businesses. The ONA recently announced the creation of the Chicago New Americans initiative which brings together the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to offer assistance to 10,000 eligible, law abiding, permanent residents in Chicago become naturalized, U.S. citizens. The ONA has also created an Advisory Council formed by 50 individuals who represent Chicago’s business, academia, civic, philanthropic, and community leaders. They will identify immigrant challenges, strategies and potential solutions and will, together with the ONA, present the plan to the Mayor later this summer. The ONA also hosted a New Americans Small Business Series, an innovative series of quarterly events that will foster small business growth in immigrant communities throughout Chicago.