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Pritzker, Lightfoot vow to resist Trump’s call for mass deportations: ‘We will continue to push back against hate’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday said he intends “to protect” those in Illinois, despite the president this week tweeting that there will be mass deportations of undocumented immigrants beginning next week.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left; President Donald Trump, right. File Photos.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, at a bill-signing ceremony last week; President Donald Trump, right, at a rally in Orlando, Florida, to officially launch his 2020 campaign on Tuesday.
John L. Alexander/For the Sun-Times; Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday said President Donald Trump is “dead wrong” in threatening mass deportations of illegal immigrants next week — while Mayor Lori Lightfoot said “wholesale round-ups of our immigrant community” won’t be tolerated in Chicago.

Trump made that declaration in a Monday tweet, saying the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement next week would “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” Trump tweeted a day before officially launching his re-election bid. The issue of immigration was a central theme to his 2016 campaign and will likely to continue to be the second time around.

After speaking during a “fireside chat” before the Executives’ Club of Chicago, Pritzker — who also called the president “racist” and “xenophobic” during the event — said he will work to “protect” the people of Illinois.

“Well, President Trump is dead wrong when he threatens people who have been living in the United States for years,” the governor said. “And especially here in the state of Illinois, I intend to protect the people who live here. That is my job to protect every resident of the state of Illinois.”

In 2017, former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Illinois Trust Act, which prohibits police in Illinois from detaining or arresting a person based on their immigration status or on federal immigration detainer. It allows law enforcement officials, however, to detain a person with a judge’s order.

The bill passed with bipartisan support and was supported by faith leaders, law enforcement and businesses. But Republicans initially opposed the measure, arguing it would cause a conflict with federal laws.

Pritzker said it’s important to not only uphold the Trust Act but find more ways to protect immigrant families. The Illinois General Assembly also sent Pritzker a bill banning for-profit prisons in the state, including immigrant detention centers. That measure is awaiting his signature.

Lightfoot also addressed the tweets on Wednesday, saying Trump is “a master at putting out provocative tweets” that people “react to and scramble.”

But, she has no idea what his “real intention is” this time around.

“We’ve been diligent in this city and we will continue to push back against hate. I’ve had conversations and I will continue to engage the head of ICE here in Chicago,” she said.

“We’re not going to tolerate — and certainly our police department isn’t gonna cooperate — in wholesale round-ups of our immigrant community. … We are not going to let what happens in Washington dictate what we do here in Chicago.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks to reporters last week.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Lightfoot noted that, “every single time that some kind of tweet or statement comes out” of Trump’s mouth, it does “real harm” by adding “to the insecurity that many people in the city are feeling — not just in our immigrant community, not just in the Latinx community, but overall.”

That’s why she advised Chicagoans to turn off the noise.

“We can’t jump every time there’s a tweet. Because sometimes he says it” and there is little or no follow-up, the mayor said.

“Obviously, there was a lead-up to his announcement … of his re-election campaign. Everybody scrambled. He gets all this attention. [But], sometimes it’s better to ignore what’s going on in Washington because it’s not healthy or productive and it detracts from the things we need to be focused on here in Chicago.”

Earlier this month, Lightfoot vowed to hammer out new “terms of engagement” for ICE agents in Chicago to prevent future family tragedies like the deportation to Colombia of Paula Hincapie-Rendon’s parents.

Lightfoot pointed to the tragedy that unfolded in Chicago last month, when Hincapie-Rendon, who is protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, was involved in what appeared to be a routine traffic stop on May 8.

ICE agents arrested the 26-year-old woman on her way to drop off her 5-year-old daughter at school. The agents then drove to their family home in Englewood and arrested Hincapie-Rendon’s parents, Betty Rendon and Carlos Hincapie.

The parents arrived in the United States in 2004 after making the potentially life-saving decision to flee Colombia with their daughter during their country’s civil war.