Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday proposed a new ordinance that would specifically block undocumented immigrants in Chicago from being detained unless they were convicted of a serious crime or wanted on a criminal warrant.
The proposal, which the Chicago Tribune described as "largely symbolic," will outline training for police officers who will continue the previous practice of not questioning victims, witnesses or other law-abiding Chicagoans about their immigration status.
Emanuel's proposal, announced in a Little Village press conference alongside U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), will be a part of the mayor's goal to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the world. Last summer, the mayor launched the city's new Office of New Americans with the aim of helping both expand opportunities for immigrant business owners and entrepreneurs and to improve immigrant access to city services.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the mayor's "Welcoming City” ordinance will continue the city's long-held practice of not inquiring into the immigration status of individuals using city services.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement that she supports the mayor's proposal, which she said "furthers our community’s decision to be a fair and equal county for immigrants, and underscores the message that we will not target the undocumented who are here to work hard and obey our laws."
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which had been lobbying for the ordinance, said in a statement that Emanuel "took a major step in making Chicago more welcoming for immigrants" with his announcement.
"Chicago depends on the vibrancy and economic stability that the immigrant community brings to the city," Lawrence Benito, ICIRR CEO said in a statement. "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."
WATCH a recent "Chicago Tonight" WTTW segment on the city's immigrant-friendly goals: