DOWNTOWN — City officials must do more to protect undocumented immigrants in Chicago, representatives of several groups made up of Black and Latino Chicagoans said Thursday.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday outlining a plan to crack down on cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation that could cost Chicago millions of dollars.
While Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago would remain a sanctuary city, the groups said he needed to go further and close what they called "loopholes" in the city's ordinance. The City Council reaffirmed the ordinance Wednesday just before Trump signed the executive order targeting sanctuary cities.
"We are here to urge Mayor Emanuel to stand firm against Trump by standing firm for all of us," said Janae E. Bonsu, the national public policy chair for the Black Youth Project 100.
There are too many loopholes for the city to be a sanctuary city in anything other than name only, Bonsu said.
City funds should be diverted away from the police department and directed toward restorative justice programs, education and mental health services, Bonsu said.
Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with Organized Communities Against Deportations, said Chicago's communities of immigrants and people of color are under attack.
"We won't let Donald Trump terrorize our Muslim, undocumented and Black communities," Gutierrez said to cheers. "We make our city safer when we stand together."
Chicago's status as a sanctuary city dates to 1985, when Mayor Harold Washington prohibited city agencies from asking people about their immigration status, though the Chicago Police Department runs background checks on criminal suspects.
The group wants the City Council to stop any cooperation with federal deportation officials and called on officials to reduce arrests and stop using a database of suspected gang members.
Chicago may be a sanctuary city, but there is more to be done, said Tania Unzueta, the legal and policy director of Mijente, a Latino political organization.
"We have a lot further to go in order for Chicago to actually earn that title," Unzueta said, noting that Trump's order could lead to the deportation of any immigrant who has any contact with police.
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