As ICE Readies for Nationwide Raids, Chicago’s New Mayor Throws a Major Wrench in the Works


Meet the new boss in the Windy City; she’s the same as the old boss.

As Immigration and Customs Enforcement prepares for a series of raids on illegal immigrants across the United States, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted that her city “will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement actions” and that she had taken “concrete steps” to throw a wrench in the works, including ensuring the city’s police superintendent had terminated ICE’s access to the city’s immigration database.

“We are all aware of the threat from President Trump regarding raids by ICE, and in response, Chicago has taken concrete steps to support our immigrant communities,” Mayor Lightfoot said Friday in what — if she was not a Democrat– would be described as a “tweetstorm.”

“I have directed — and Superintendent [Eddie] Johnson has confirmed — that CPD has terminated ICE’s access to CPD’s databases related to federal immigration enforcement activities,” she continued.

“I have also personally spoken with ICE leadership in Chicago and voiced my strong objection to any such raids. Further, I reiterated that CPD will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement actions.”

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Lightfoot said that “Chicago will always be a welcoming city and a champion for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities” and directed anyone who was concerned to a link about the raids from the National Immigrant Justice Center.

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How “concrete” these “concrete steps” are — at least in terms of foiling the raids — is probably a matter of some debate.

The 2,000 families reportedly being targeted in major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York are subject to deportation orders.

Furthermore, given the sensitivity of the matter, one assumes that ICE wasn’t expecting these cities to be welcoming places for law enforcement. In fact, most of the mayors of these locales have made statements similar to Lightfoot’s. Baltimore’s Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the District of Columbia’s Muriel Bowser, and New York City’s Bill de Blasio all chimed in on Twitter:

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Furthermore, even with the president’s tweets on the matter, the government is being circumspect on just what the raids will entail.

“Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations before the conclusion of those actions,” ICE spokesperson Matthew Bourke said of the raids, according to The Hill.

“As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who have received criminal convictions; have pending criminal charges; are determined to be a national security or public safety threat; or are an immigration fugitive.”

But that’s the thing: Chicago has a long and proud (perhaps not the right word) tradition of resisting any attempt to enforce immigration law within its borders.

Back during the days of Rahm Emanuel’s administration of the city, Chicago refused to cooperate with ICE’s handling of illegal immigrants that were in police custody — and amazingly, touted this as something that makes the Illinois metropolis more secure.

“Today’s opinion in favor of Chicago and against the Trump Justice Department marks a major win for all Chicagoans and a significant victory for public safety,” Emanuel said after a Trump administration initiative to deny certain public safety grants to sanctuary city was permanently enjoined by a federal judge.

One can understand the urge to fight the Trump administration on a defunding order because they had denied ICE access to its jails or refused to work with them on a law enforcement matter. To then paint the issue as one of “public safety” takes a certain level of eyebrow-raising hubris.

That lawsuit, at least, had some level of practical effect upon law enforcement efforts. Less effective were Emanuel’s declarations that his city was a “Trump-free zone” after the president ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as if the former mayor was going to station police battalions at O’Hare with orders to block the runways at the first sight of Air Force One.

Lightfoot’s tweetstorm has more the ring of the latter than the former. I’m sure that her  “strong objection to any such raids” could have been noted before this all began, and one would assume — given what’s already transpired both in federal court and public discourse — that ICE’s access to the city’s databases had long since been terminated.

However, it’s worth noting that Lightfoot, just one month ago, took control of a city that has consistently had a crime rate much higher than the national average and which has seen population loss for four straight years; in 2015 and 2016, it was the only city in the U.S. top 10 to see a loss.

One can assume these facts aren’t unconnected. A conspicuous Democrat, of course, cannot come out and support ICE raids against those who have deportation orders — usually individuals who should not be in the country in the first place. It might help her image, however, if she sat this one out, particularly given where her city stacks up.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture