Lightfoot offers plan to close loopholes allowing Chicago police to cooperate with immigration agents

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday followed through on a pledge to introduce a plan to the City Council that would eliminate loopholes in the city’s Welcoming City Ordinance that allow police to in some cases cooperate with federal immigration agents.

Lightfoot drew the ire of some Latino aldermen and activists this fall when she tried to include the changes in her 2021 budget as a way to try to get their support. Facing criticism, the mayor removed the language from the package, and it passed 29-21.

The mayor’s proposed ordinance would no longer let Chicago police cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents if arrestees’ names are in Chicago’s gang database, if they have charges or convictions in their background, or if they have criminal warrants.

The mayor’s proposal also would prohibit city agencies from detaining people solely because they might be in the U.S. without legal permission, or transferring anyone to ICE custody for immigration enforcement.

It bars police from setting up traffic perimeters to aid ICE immigration actions, and requires police supervisors to sign off on any requests for assistance from ICE. If the supervisor determines the agency wants help enforcing civil immigration laws, the supervisor “shall decline the request.”

Lightfoot on Wednesday also introduced an ordinance to increase fines for air pollution caused by demolitions such as the April work at a Southwest Side coal power plant that sent a cloud of dust through the Little Village neighborhood. Under the mayor’s plan, pollution caused by demolition would result in fines of between $5,000 and $20,000. It also would increase fines for pollution caused by facilities such as General Iron, the troubled North Side scrap shredder that’s facing pushback from Southeast Side residents opposed to plans for the company to move to their neighborhood.

And the mayor introduced a new plan designed to “reduce displacement of low- and moderate-income residents” in the Pilsen neighborhood by prohibiting construction of single-family homes and two-flats within certain zoning designations, after a landmark designation plan and a demolition moratorium plan for the fast-gentrifying neighborhood both failed earlier this month.

Lightfoot brought forward a similar ordinance Wednesday to also try to stem displacement of low-income residents around The 606 elevated park that runs through fast-gentrifying parts of Humboldt Park and Logan Square, by outlawing the conversion of multiunit buildings into single-family homes within certain boundaries near the former railroad tracks.