CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Ever since former Mayor Lori Lightfoot designated Chicago as a “sanctuary city” in 2021, tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in the city, with hundreds more arriving every week.
Lightfoot’s “Welcoming City” policy prevents law enforcement from turning undocumented migrants over to United States immigration authorities if they are arrested for a crime.
But now, Chicago Alderman Ray Lopez (15th Ward) has proposed reversing that in an effort to clamp down on crime.
“I think we need to send the message loud and clear that there are certain things that are unacceptable in our society,” Lopez said to CBS News.
“I think if we have the looming threat of deportation for anyone who engages in gang, drug, prostitution, or anything else more egregious – you know, hopefully, that will deter some of the bad behavior that we’re seeing,” Lopez said. “We can still be welcoming. We can also welcome with parameters.”
Governors in southern states, saying the government left them to pick up the expense of housing and giving healthcare to undocumented migrants crossing the border, have sent busloads northward to large cities, such as Chicago, which boasted of being “sanctuary cities.”
Lightfoot’s policy was largely seen as a rebuke against former President Donald Trump’s efforts to strengthen the nation’s southern border and construct a border wall with Mexico.
Fueling the influx was also the end of a COVID-19 pandemic-era immigration rule, Title 42, which allowed the federal government to restrict the number of migrants seeking asylum in the country.
Lightfoot subsequently declared a State of Emergency in May, saying the migrant situation in Chicago amounts to a “national humanitarian crisis” that is “exceeding the City’s ability to manage” the influx.
With the number of immigrants straining city resources, Chicago has begun dispersing the migrants to neighborhoods throughout the city. To fund the program, the city council appropriated $51 million from opioid and vaping settlement funds.
The city has used other facilities as shelters, such as a former school building in South Shore, but they have received backlash from residents in those areas who complained that they had not been notified of an “intrusion into daily life.”
“They disrespect us, they rob us, they harass us,” a woman, who lives near the Wadsworth Elementary School in Woodlawn, which has been converted into a migrant shelter, said at a June neighborhood meeting.
Nineteen other aldermen support Lopez’ ordinance. He plans to introduce the plan at the next City Council meeting on September 13th.