Mayor Lori Lightfoot signs updated Welcoming City Ordinance, adding protections for undocumented residents

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an updated Welcoming City Ordinance Tuesday, adding more protections for undocumented immigrants and refugees living in the city.

"We will be able to tell people in our community, do not be afraid to call 911 if you are undocumented or if a family members is undocumented, because there is no way that phone call will result in you or your family member being turned over by CPD to ICE.," said 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa.

The changes passed in the City Council with over 40 votes. It closes carve-outs, or loopholes prohibiting police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to deport immigrants living here illegally, even if they are in the city's gang database, have charges or convictions in their background or have outstanding criminal warrants.

"Everyone should be entitled to due process of law, which means if they have a pending charge or an outstanding warrant, they should be able to go through that without threat of deportation," said Fred Tsao, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee rights.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her supporters believe the immigrant community will now feel safer calling police and cooperating with investigations without fear they may get deported.

"Being a welcoming city means being a city that embraces people equally with open arms, where no one has to fear being their authentic self, walking down the street, doing business, earning a living and taking care of their family," the mayor said.

Mayor Lightfoot speaks before signing updated ordinance

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks before signing a Welcoming City Ordinance which prevents Chicago police from working with federal immigration authorities.

Even though the amendment passed with overwhelming support, eight aldermen voted against it, including 15th Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez. Lopez said the his opposition was not about immigrants' rights but about public safety, and that his constituents un Back of the Yards, Brighton Park and Gage Park oppose closing the loopholes because they believe it will now allow protection for violent gang members.

"There is a small number of individuals who have taken a very different path than everybody else and they must be treated differently. It's no different than if they were citizens and they took a very different path. You don't treat them the same as you do law-abiding citizens. There are consequences," Lopez said.

Also under the revised ordinance, the word "citizen" has been removed from the Municipal Code and replaced instead with "person" or "resident," a small, but symbolic gesture, meant to indicate that Chicago does not discriminate based on citizenship.
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