As local politicians and activists orchestrated citywide efforts to prepare Chicago’s immigrant communities for this weekend’s anticipated deportation raids, fear turned to confusion when, in a surprise reversal, President Donald Trump announced he was postponing the mass arrests for two weeks.
Hours after Trump singled out Chicago as a “high-crime” city that was “fighting” the raids, the president tweeted Saturday afternoon that he would delay the planned arrests “to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”
In light of the reversal, elected officials and community organizers said it was important to remain vigilant.
“The hateful words that we hear on a regular basis from President Trump and other people in his administration do great harm,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “Whether they’re intending to take action or not, we have to be diligent and we have to push back against the hate.”
Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., said the reversal it was “typical of the president’s bullyish ways.”
”He’s seeking to negotiate by acting like a bully and seeking to impose certain conditions on someone he perceives to be an adversary,” Garcia told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Garcia and Lightfoot joined a slew of city, state and federal officials who condemned the president’s immigration policies and rhetoric as they spoke to reporters in Little Village, a predominantly Mexican American neighborhood on the Southwest Side.
Lightfoot, joined by members the City Council’s Latino Caucus, said she had reached out to hotels, restaurants and other businesses to encourage them to support their employees and not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“They need to be diligent and also know what the rights are, what the rules are, and not subject their employees to any kind of interrogation or arrest absent a signed court order,” Lightfoot said. “And we have told them that if people don’t come to work because they’re fearful — which we believe will absolutely happen — that they cannot lose their jobs because they’re supporting themselves and their families by not showing up to work.”
Lightfoot said Friday that Chicago police would not cooperate or participate with any raids and would cut off access by ICE to the department’s databases.
Lightfoot and Garcia spent part of the afternoon walking through Little Village to pass out “know your rights” cards. At one restaurant, the mayor and congressman walked table-to-table, speaking with customers and shaking hands as TV news cameras followed.
Aldermen in various wards across the city — including Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) and Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) — organized similar canvassing efforts to go door-to-door passing out guides informing residents of how they should deal with immigration agents.
One of the largest efforts came on the Northwest Side, with Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33rd) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) bringing together more than 100 volunteers to canvas every block in the Albany Park neighborhood.
Ramirez-Rosa called Trump’s reversal a “win” for communities that mobilized against the raids.
“I doubt ICE wanted to follow Trump’s raid directive when tens of thousands across our nation were mobilized, vigilant, and ready to respond,” Ramirez-Rosa tweeted Saturday.
As she knocked on doors along Christina Avenue Saturday, Monique Buni, a Filipino American, said she came to volunteer in Albany Park because many Filipino immigrants call the neighborhood home.
“It’s important that [in] our community, our neighborhood, the Filipino folks be informed with this information,” Buni said.
Bo Redondiez, who walked with Buni, said residents he spoke with were worried, but appreciated the information the volunteers provided.
“If it’s just one person against the whole agency, it’s difficult,” Redondiez said. “We want to show them that you don’t have to hide. You have rights regardless of your status, and this neighborhood is here to help and welcome you.”