Lightfoot to Trump: Pursue immigration reform

Chicago mayor calls on president to ‘honor your office and the people you serve’

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has sent an open letter to President Trump criticizing his policy on immigration issues. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has sent an open letter to President Trump criticizing his policy on immigration issues. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Chicago’s mayor defied the president on his threatened immigration raids and urged him to “honor your office and the people you serve” in an open letter printed in Monday’s Washington Post.

The letter to President Trump, posted online late Sunday, states right away that Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the Chicago Police Department “not to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on any activities within the city of Chicago and not to allow ICE agents access to our police databases.”

She added that Chicago’s law department had issued protocols to “all personnel working at city-owned facilities, including libraries, Park District buildings, senior centers, and schools, not to cooperate with ICE,” and that the city had replenished a legal defense fund for those with immigration issues.

Lightfoot suggested Trump was placing politics over policy in attacking U.S. residents instead of addressing the immigration problem at its source at the border with Mexico.

Last week, Trump renewed threats to stage immigration raids in major U.S. cities including Chicago over the weekend. Immigrant groups rallied opposition in response, and thousands turned out in Daley Plaza in Chicago on Saturday for a march intended to “End Detention, Welcome Immigrants.” As of Monday, the raids had yet to occur in Chicago.

“The threats and realities of stepped-up enforcement have not had the deterrent effect you intended, because the people you are targeting are not actually the problem,” Lightfoot said. Adding that Chicago has an estimated 180,000 undocumented residents, she said, “They work in our local businesses, they build and repair our streets, buildings, and other infrastructure. They are our neighbors, they are our family members, they are part of our community. They contribute to our economy in meaningful ways. Countless business organizations attest to this fact.

“Attacking these members of our communities also hurts our local economy,” Lightfoot added, “because they are at times afraid to go outside to shop for the necessities of life.”

Lightfoot called out Trump for the “unsanitary and unacceptable facilities along our border” to detain immigrants, adding that she was “horrified” by the treatment of immigrant families, including the deaths of children separated from their parents.

“I urge you to rethink the harmful policies that your administration is promoting both at the border and within the homeland,” Lightfoot wrote.

“Mr. President, you sit at the top of a government unmatched in prestige and power,” she added. “I urge you to honor your office and the people you serve by standing as a leader who accomplishes what has eluded other presidents — humane, comprehensive immigration reform.” She called on the president “to find your conscience before you do further damage to the lives of these children and families, and to the standing and respect our country has enjoyed in the world.”

Trump did not immediately respond through his favorite medium, Twitter, because he was too busy pursuing his calls for “Progressive Democrat Congresswomen” to “go back” to the places they came from. This was read as an attack on freshman U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Although all are women of color and U.S. citizens, only Omar, originally from Somalia, was not born in the United States.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi organized a resolution condemning Trump’s racist language on Monday. She got support from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who tweeted that it was Trump “showing America who he truly is — a racist, a misogynist, and a xenophobe. Sadly, this rhetoric isn’t surprising, but it must be called out every time. I urge every lawmaker to do what's right and condemn this hateful attack our own fellow Americans.”