CHICAGO - Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed a measure Tuesday strengthening Chicago’s sanctuary policies by removing exceptions where local police can cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The revised ordinance, which easily cleared the City Council last month, follows years of campaigning by immigrant rights advocates who’ve said issues of immigration and the criminal justice system are separate.
Previously, Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance allowed police to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in limited circumstances, including if a person living in the country without legal permission had an outstanding criminal warrant, a conviction or was named in the city’s gang database.
"Chicago has been a welcoming city and a city of immigrants since its very founding, and proudly so," Lightfoot said.
Opponents, including aldermen, cited concerns about crime and protecting gang members.
But supporters said immigrants can now call authorities and cooperate with investigations without fear. Activists, who said previous sanctuary protections fell short, praised the move as a step toward addressing conflicts between police and communities throughout Chicago.
"No matter someone’s history, layering deportation on top of an already flawed and racist criminal justice system is a discriminatory and wrong," said a statement from a coalition called the Chicago Immigration Working Group.