CHICAGO - The Chicago City Council approved Wednesday a $1.3 million legal defense fund to help immigrants threatened with deportation.
If President-elect Donald Trump follows through on a campaign promise to deport thousands of undocumented immigrants, Chicago will be financially ready to fight back. The money, property tax rebate funds, will give immigrants access to legal services.
"Donald Trump, we are sending you a message, you will not tear apart our families, we will stay together. We will defend and protect our communities," said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward).
Ramirez-Rosa said defending undocumented workers may include people he has hired in his own ward office.
"It's nothing new in the city of Chicago. It happens all the time. People need to eat. People need to put food on the table. Working is not a crime," said Ramirez-Rosa.
The legal protection fund was passed overwhelming, but not without some concern about the use of the money and where it is coming from.
"Just remember, we are supporting this today. But when it comes to making sure we have jobs in African American community so we can reduce crime in the city and the state, don't forget where your vote is today because I'm watching," said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward).
"If this is something everybody wants to get behind, why not donate a little bit of your campaign fund towards it?" asked Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward).
The fund idea came from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"This is not about excluding anybody, we make many choices in our budget to help people," Emanuel said.
Politically, helping immigrants may strengthen the mayor's support with the Latino community, which he will need if he runs for re-election.