Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to put a long-standing city practice on the books to ensure that police detain only those undocumented immigrants who are suspected or convicted criminals, reports the Chicago Tribune. The symbolic ordinance Emanuel proposed would allow city police to turn over to federal agents undocumented immigrants who are wanted on a criminal warrant or who have been convicted of a serious crime, but not others.
Chicago has practiced a sanctuary city policy dating back to Mayor Harold Washington’s tenure during the 1980s. City agencies have been prohibited from inquiring about the immigration status of people requesting services. The Chicago Police Department also refrains from questioning victims of crime, witnesses or other law-abiding residents about their legal status. Police, however, do run background checks on people suspected of committing crimes. In recent years, if officers found a deportation order, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement expected police to turn over undocumented immigrants. But the city had no specific requirement about how to act in those cases, and the policy was enforced inconsistently. “The Police Department does not exist to serve as an “adjunct for the immigration service,” Emanuel said.