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New Amendments to Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on April 07, 2021

Recently, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed the new Welcoming City Ordinance, which added amendments that would provide immigrants with additional legal protections. The changes to the ordinance come following many controversies around the raids resulting from Trump-era immigration policies.

How ICE Raids Put Immigrants at Risk

For years, Chicago has been known as a “Sanctuary City” where immigrants are generally perceived as safer. However, Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids impacted many immigrants living in Chicago and the rest of the U.S. These raids largely resulted from policies that the Trump administration had put in place, which human rights groups had long criticized.

While factors such as “zero-tolerance” border enforcement led to the separation of many immigrant children and their families at the border, the ICE raids in Chicago allowed for many similar types of separations in Chicago. This was because undocumented immigrants in Chicago could be deported before they had a chance to prove their innocence.

What the Amendments Mean for Immigrants in Chicago

In February, Mayor Lightfoot signed the new “Welcoming City” ordinance that would provide immigrations with more legal protections and implement certain policies that aim to protect their due-process rights. The Chicago Welcoming City Ordinance states that police are unable to arrest individuals based on immigration status alone. It also prevents Chicago police from providing any support to ICE and other federal immigration enforcement operations. Furthermore, it prevents city agencies from sharing, requesting, or maintaining an individual’s immigration status.

Immigrant communities in Chicago celebrated the amendments as they marked a change to long-standing controversial policies that undermined the city’s reputation as a “Sanctuary City.” Supporters of the ordinance stated that the added protections will help ensure that vulnerable immigrants remain protected. At the same time, the protections are intended to help Chicago police criminal investigations by encouraging undocumented immigrants and those associated with them to provide information that may help the investigation. Otherwise, immigrants who were fearful of law enforcement because of their immigration status might have been less likely to assist the police.

The new amendments to the Welcoming City ordinance are beneficial to both the city’s immigrants and law enforcement officials. These changes are likely to help minimize the separations of immigrant families and provide them with protections that further establish Chicago as a “Sanctuary City.”