Alderman proposes using deportation as crime deterrent


CHICAGO (CBS) — Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have already arrived in Chicago – and hundreds more are arriving every week.

Meanwhile, there have been growing concerns about crimes being committed by some of the migrants. As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Monday night, one alderman is proposing a deterrent.

Chicago is officially a Welcoming City. Three years ago, then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot put the brakes on undocumented residents being turned over to immigration authorities after being charged with a crime.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) wants to reverse that.

“I think we need to send the message loud and clear that there are certain things that are unacceptable in our society,” Lopez said.

Lopez said the message is clearly laid out in an ordinance proposal he has issued – follow the law or risk deportation.

“I think if we have the looming threat of deportation for anyone who engages in gang, drug, prostitution, or anything else more egregious – you know, hopefully, that will deter some of the bad behavior that we’re seeing,” Lopez said.

Specifically, Lopez’s ordinance would put some provisions back into Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance that would allow the city to contact immigration authorities – or Immigration and Customs Enforcement – if migrants or other undocumented residents were arrested for gang, drug, prostitution, or sex crimes against minors.

Mayor Lightfoot banned that communication in 2021.

“We can still be welcoming,” Lopez said. We can also welcome with parameters.”

Lopez’s proposal comes as concerns about behavior and criminal activity in and around migrant shelters is growing in some neighborhood. In June, residents near the migrant shelter in the old Wadsworth Elementary School in Woodlawn complained about disruptive behavior.

“They disrespect us, they rob us, they harass us,” a woman said at a meeting in June.

Nineteen other alderpeople support the ordinance Lopez has proposed. But Ald. Andrew Vasquez (40th), chairman of the City Council Immigration and Refugee Rights Committee, does not.

“I think it’s very fair to have concerns. I think this isn’t the way to address it,” Vasquez said, “and I do think that we need the federal government to help, but we don’t need ICE.”

Vasquez said he is also concerned the ordinance would allow migrants to face deportation without a conviction.

“There’s a whole due process that already exists for these situations,” Vasquez said.

Kozlov noted to Lopez that police will already arrest anyone who commits a crime and gets caught – and such people will be charged. But Lopez said that does not go far enough.

“I don’t think that’s enough,” Lopez said. “You’re still here. You’re still allowed to stay here.” 

Lopez plans to introduce the ordinance at the next City Council meeting on Sept. 13.

He would need six more supporters to get it passed if it ever gets out of committee.


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