Chicago hasn’t been ICE’s favorite place to make arrests. That’s likely due to strict immigrant protections enforced by the city and the state of Illinois. According to a recent report, arrests in America’s third-largest metro have gone down.
In a news conference held on Jan. 10, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked the city to be more cooperative when detaining immigrants in local facilities. As of April 30, 2019, nearly 600 people were in ICE custody at three county jails with federal contracts. Out of those detained, 249 reportedly have no criminal convictions.
The Trump administration recently said it’s targeting noncitizens with criminal backgrounds. On the contrary, recent data from Syracuse University shows that more noncitizens without criminal convictions are getting detained.
Policies aimed to protect immigrants
As Chicago is a sanctuary city, local ordinances restrict police from giving immigration enforcement agents access to noncitizens in local custody. Other rules also bar on-duty police officers from speaking with ICE officials or letting agents conduct interviews at police facilities.
In 2019, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered city police to deny ICE access to any databases related to national civil immigration enforcement. The move was due to concerns regarding large-scale immigration arrests. However, activists and other city council members say there are still some loopholes federal agents could use to gain database access.
In addition to city ordinances, Illinois lawmakers recently passed The Trust Act. It prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from participating in federal programs and blocks them from arresting anyone based on their immigration status unless the officer has a judicial warrant.
Those obtaining citizenship still face hardships
Despite recent state and local protections put in place, immigrants and their families trying to gain citizenship may still encounter obstacles. Luckily, those looking to make Illinois their home have resources available.