Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, publicly said that he refuses to help enforce federal immigration law by promising "Chicago always will be a sanctuary city." At a news conference today, flanked by immigrant advocates, Emanuel said, "To all those who are, after Tuesday's election, very nervous and filled with anxiety as we've spoken to, you are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago."
 
“I want to assure all of our families that Chicago is and will remain a sanctuary city,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Chicago has been a city of immigrants since it was founded. We have always welcomed people of all faiths and backgrounds, and while the administration will change, our values and our commitment to inclusion will not.”
Emanuel added that the Windy City will also expanding available mental health services to illegal immigrants who are fearful that the prospective Trump administration will deport them. In a statement, Emanuel urged immigrants to call the Chicago's 311 call-center to obtain legal resources and other programs. 
 
"Now, administrations may change, but our values and principles as it relates to inclusion does not," Emanuel added. "People from all faiths, all backgrounds and all parts of the world have beaten their path to the city of Chicago because Chicago offers them and, more importantly, as the son and the grandson of an immigrant, their children and grandchildren, a chance at the American dream."
 
"Do not lose hope, because America embraces you," Emanuel said today with regard to immigrants’ fears of deportation. 
 
Emanuel, who served during President Barack Obama’s first term, made his remarks in the wake of a "60 Minutes" in which President-elect Donald Trump said that he will deport 3 million illegal immigrants with criminal records.
 
Trump said in the television interview, "What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate," Trump said in the interview. "But we're getting them out of our country. They're here illegally."
 
The mayor of Chicago has not promised to protect criminal immigrants living in the United States illegally. However, Emanuel has said recently that Chicago will protect immigrants' rights. For example, in the hours after Trump’s electoral victory, the mayor gave a speech at a City Council meeting. There he argued that the politicians of a number of different ethnicities who won elections in Illinois is proof that immigrants give the Chicago metropolitan area its vitality. 
 
After the meeting, Emanuel said he sympathized with the anxiety many illegal immigrants are experiencing, and said he would fight for their rights. "We are a welcoming city (for immigrants), not just in the language and the rhetoric the mayor used, but it's clear in the ordinance I passed, and we will stay a welcoming city," he said. 
 
Chicago has been effectively a sanctuary city since 1985. At that time Mayor Harold Washington (D) issued an executive order that forbade any inquiries by municipal services when providing services. Police are prohibited from inquiring about the immigrant status of crime victims or witnesses. Emanuel pushed the envelope when he sponsored a 2012 ordinance, approved by the City Council, that prohibits Chicago police from turning over illegal immigrants to federal immigration authorities unless there is a criminal warrant or have been convicted of a serious crime. This year, the council approved an Emanuel-endorsed ordinance that gives municipal identification cards to illegal immigrants.
 
Chicago law prohibits its police, unless they are “acting pursuant to a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law,” from providing U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement officials access to people in Chicago Police Department custody. 
 
Federal immigration and customs authorities are prohibited from using Chicago police premises for interviews or investigations. Chicago police are also prohibited from answering questions posed by federal immigration officials or talking to them about the custody status or release dates of illegal immigrants in Chicago lock-ups. All city workers and police are prohibited from disclosing the citizenship or immigration status of anyone "except as otherwise provided under applicable federal law."
 
 “I want to assure all of our families that Chicago is and will remain a sanctuary city,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Chicago has been a city of immigrants since it was founded. We have always welcomed people of all faiths and backgrounds, and while the administration will change, our values and our commitment to inclusion will not.”
Other cities offering sanctuary are Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. There are dozens across the country and more than 100 jurisdictions that have policies limiting compliance with federal immigration law. 
 
In his "60 Minutes" interview, Trump said, “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records -- gang members, drug dealers -- where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate," he said. "But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.
 
“After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that they’re talking about who are terrific people, they’re terrific people but we are going to make a determination at that. But before we make that determination, it’s very important, we are going to secure our border.”
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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