Updated Friday at 9:15 a.m.
Federal authorities have scheduled immigration raids to begin on Sunday in 10 major cities across the country, including Chicago, according to media outlets, citing federal officials, and immigration advocates.
Thursday morning in downtown Chicago, dozens of organizations gathered outside the federal immigration building in a show of support and to tell the immigrant community that they are prepared to help.
“The people in this building and the people in Washington are making decisions to terrorize our communities and we will not allow that,” said Mony Ruiz-Velazco, executive director of the PASO West Suburban Action Project. “They are making decisions to go out into our community to arrest our family members, our neighbors and the people we love and we will not allow that. We are organized. We know that they can not do mass arrests with the police.”
Activists also demanded that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sign an executive order to close loopholes in the city’s Sanctuary ordinance.
“What we know is that talk is cheap and words are not enough,” said Rey Wences, an activist with Organized Communities Against Deportation. “Immigration working groups met with [Lightfoot’s] chief of staff, and during the meeting we discussed the executive order and the response was the administration has to look at it. Well, the time is up.”
Wences provided a copy of the executive order they want Lightfoot to sign. The first directive states:
“No officer of the Chicago Police Department (“Department”) is permitted to accept requests by US immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to support or assist in any capacity with immigration enforcement, including but not limited to requests to provide persons’ addresses or other contact information who may be the subject of immigration enforcement, use of any equipment or facilities, provide tactical support such as establishing traffic perimeters, or to otherwise be present to assist or support immigration enforcement. In the event an officer receives a request to support or assist in immigration enforcement, that officer shall report the request to the officer’s commanding officer, who shall decline the request and document the declination in a memorandum to the superintendent.”
At the press conference, Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward, said that while Lightfoot has met with immigration advocates and assured them of her support, she hasn’t issued a written directive for the Chicago Police Department.
“We are calling on Mayor Lightfoot to take the words she said yesterday and put them in an executive order so that they have full force of law,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
Lightfoot spokeswoman Anel Ruiz said the mayor is committed to protecting immigrants.
"As a Welcoming City, Chicago will never tolerate the threat of ICE forcing our residents and families to live in fear. Last month, Mayor Lightfoot was definitive in her directive to CPD not to cooperate with or facilitate any ICE effort to target migrant families, and we will continue to object to any planned raids this weekend. The City continues to work closely with community groups and other organizations in the face of this latest threat and to continue defending the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities who call Chicago home," Ruiz said.
Starting Sunday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin targeting members of undocumented migrant families with pending removal orders, The New York Times has reported. The agents will also arrest and detain other undocumented immigrants who might be on the scene but are not targets of the raids.
ICE is targeting about 2,000 immigrants nationwide who have a deportation order.
Ruiz-Velazco said they don’t know how many of those enforcement actions will happen in Chicago. She said many immigrants have removal orders for many reasons, including failing to appear in court. Some immigrants move a lot and may not be aware that they have a court hearing.
Ruiz-Velazco warned immigrants that, even if they don’t have a removal order, they could be arrested during a raid. She advised immigrants not to open the door and to demand to see a warrant signed by an immigration judge.
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights along with other organizations have established a hotline that immigrants can call to report raids and to find resources. The family support network and hotline is 855-435-7693.
Immigration activists are planning a rally on Saturday at Daley Plaza at 11 a.m.
María Ines Zamudio is a reporter for WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow her @mizamudio.