Federal authorities are preparing for a massive, nationwide immigration raid that reportedly begins on Sunday and could last days.
The operation has the backing of President Donald Trump and is expected to be carried out in at least 10 major U.S. cities.
These planned raids raise many questions: What does this mean for Chicago, which is a sanctuary city? What rights do undocumented immigrants have when they’re detained? And how are city officials responding?
Here’s a guide that provides answers to some questions you might have, along with what we know about the planned raids.
Who exactly is being targeted?
Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported but remain in the country illegally, according to The New York Times, citing unnamed current and former homeland security officials.
But officials told the newspaper that agents could detain undocument immigrants who are found at the scene.
What will happen to immigrant families?
Officials told the Times that families will be arrested and detained together “when possible.” Those families will be sent to facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania, but they also might be held in hotel rooms because space is limited.
Federal agents have expressed apprehension to arresting babies and young children, according to the Times.
After being detained, how long will it take for deportations to begin?
The unnamed officials told the Times that deportations would happen as quickly as possible. But immigration lawyers could file new motions to reopen families’ immigration cases, which could delay or even stop their deportations.
What does this mean for Chicago, which is a sanctuary city?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has banned ICE from using the Chicago Police Department’s databases that could aid agents in detaining residents.
Lightfoot has also instructed the Police Department to not cooperate with ICE in immigration raids. But loopholes exist.
Chicago cops can assist ICE agents if an individual is in the city’s gang database, is a felon, faces a felony prosecution or has an outstanding criminal warrant.
Lightfoot has promised to eliminate those so-called “carve outs” in an effort to strengthen the city’s Welcoming City Ordinance, which offers some protections to undocumented immigrants living in the city. However, local activists have prepared an executive order to close those loopholes, and they’ve demanded that Lightfoot sign it. Thus far, the mayor has not signed it.
You can find a copy of the ordinance here.
While Chicago is a sanctuary city, that does not prohibit federal agents from arresting and detaining immigrants residing in the city.
How should I prepare if I think I will be detained?
Come up with a plan, said Ruth Lopez-McCarthy, managing attorney for the Legal Protection Fund at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NJIC), speaking at a recent workshop covered by WBEZ.
Lopez-McCarthy said parents should think about the short-term guardianship of their children. Parents should update emergency contact forms at their childrens’ schools, and memorize an emergency contact number in case an arrest is made, Lopez-McCarthy said.
What happens if a federal agent knocks on my door?
Don’t open the door, said Estela Vara, an immigration activist with PASO West Suburban Action Project. ICE agents do not have the legal authority to forcibly enter homes.
Vara also said that if an agent has a warrant, you should check to make sure it is signed by an immigration judge. If the agent has a warrant signed by an immigration judge, tell the officer to back away from the door, Vara said, and then exit the house through a different door before the officer gets in.
If immigrants are detained, Vara said they should not answer any questions asked by agents. Additionally, she said immigrants should memorize this statement: “I wish to remain silent, to exercise my right to remain silent and to refuse to answer any questions.”
What are some Chicago resources for undocumented immigrants?
The NIJC provides attorneys, free for Chicago residents. They can be contacted at (312) 660-1370.
Wasn’t there something about massive raids in the news before?
Yes. The Washington Post last month reported on a similar plan. President Trump delayed that plan after urging from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Trump essentially gave Congressional Democrats two weeks to join Republicans in backing asylum reforms that Democrats have traditionally opposed.
Hunter Clauss is a digital editor who writes the station’s daily newsletter, The Rundown. You can follow him on Twitter at @whuntah.
Additional reporting by WBEZ’s Maria Zamudio.