You might say Monday’s shooting of a 53-year-old Belmont Cragin man by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent “trumped” a renewed threat from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cut some federal funding to cities like Chicago with sanctuary city policies.
The early morning shooting, which occurred as ICE agents sought to serve a warrant, made a much bigger impression in immigrant communities than any talk out of Washington about “clawing back” millions of dollars in Justice Department grants.
And it wasn’t a favorable one.
“It underscores the need to NOT collaborate with ICE,” said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), the lead sponsor of an ordinance that seeks to expand the city’s protections for undocumented immigrants rather than cooperate with federal immigration agents, as Sessions urged.
The facts of what took place in the home at 6100 block of West Grand Avenue are still fuzzy.
ICE agents say they shot the man after he pointed a gun at them when they attempted to serve a warrant on another individual. The man’s family disputed that account, telling DNAinfo he did not have a gun.
While Chicago police are sorting that out, it’s only going to lend to the perception in Chicago’s immigrant communities that the Trump administration is making life more dangerous, not less, with its deportation push.
“This morning’s incident shows why people fear ICE,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
And that’s why he believes it is so important for the Chicago Police Department not to use its policing powers to help the federal government conduct immigration enforcement.
The whole point of so-called sanctuary city policies, which seems lost on the president and his team, is that it’s counterproductive for law enforcement if immigrant communities think local police will question them about their immigration status when they are the victim of — or witness to — a crime.
“Nobody should be afraid to call 911,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
That’s a policy, by the way, that was also recommended in 2015 by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which urged that “whenever possible, state and local law enforcement should not be involved in immigration enforcement.” Different president, obviously.
Trump got to where he is in part by demonizing immigrants, brown-skinned ones being a particular specialty, and fresh off his health care defeat, it was no surprise he went back to the well Monday to rally his supporters.
Local immigration activists were not overly alarmed by Sessions’ stated intention to begin withholding Justice Department grants from local jurisdictions that don’t honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement warrants.
“We knew this was coming,” said Fred Tsao, policy director at Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, who expects a legal challenge will thwart the funding cutoff.
That doesn’t mean Sessions’ threat won’t serve to create more fear in the immigrant communities themselves, which seems to be one of the aims of the president’s policies.
Every time the Trump administration makes one of its immigration pronouncements, “it definitely shakes everybody up,” said Erendira Rendon, an organizer at The Resurrection Project.
Rendon said the group sees a big spike in attendance at its Know Your Rights training sessions when Trump goes on the attack.
I know better than to think I’m going to change any minds in the anti-immigrant world.
But I do think a lot of people have a mistaken notion of what it means to be a sanctuary city.
In general, it means local law enforcement will not help the federal government deport people.
Nothing about being a sanctuary city prevents Chicago police from investigating or arresting an undocumented immigrant for a crime.
Nothing about a sanctuary policy prevents someone convicted of a crime from having to serve their time in jail or prison.
Chicago’s non-cooperation policy doesn’t prohibit ICE agents from doing their jobs here.
We simply choose not to help.
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