Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a press conference in the Little Village neighborhood to announce introduction of the "Safe Families Ordinance." The ordinance clarifies and extends Chicago's existing policy of creating a firewall between federal civil immigration law enforcement and the relationship the City of Chicago, and especially the Chicago Police Department, has with its residents. The following is a statement from Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
I commend the Mayor and the City of Chicago for updating, shoring up, and making crystal clear the Safe Families Ordinance.
The City of Chicago has been at the forefront of U.S. cities in how it handles the reality that thousands upon thousands of immigrants, families and entrepreneurs are seeking opportunity in our city and the reality that the United States has failed to modernize its immigration system for decades.
We no longer have a reliable and responsive legal immigration system. Too many individuals are faced with the impossible choice of abandoning their families or going around our legal system because they can find no way through it to meet their responsibilities as spouses and parents. And we give almost no opportunity to immigrants here illegally to take any action that would allow them to earn legal status.
Because of these realities, states like Illinois and Arizona and cities like Chicago and Phoenix are forced to deal with the consequences.
In Arizona, they deal with this reality by enacting laws to sanction racial profiling and by condoning the irrational acts of cowboys -- sometimes ones who happen to be Sheriffs and carry guns -- and set them loose on immigrants or anyone who looks or sounds like an immigrant.
We know from the experience in Arizona, Alabama, and many other places that this undermines public safety, wastes precious and scarce law enforcement resources and weakens the bonds of trust between police and the communities they serve and protect.
In Chicago, we do things a little differently because we put public safety above political stunts, and we put creating a united, cohesive society over trying to draw dividing lines or driving political wedges.
I am so proud that the Chicago tradition continues and is made all the more solid by our current mayor.
Chicago police have guns and cars and badges and radios, but without the eyes and ears of the community, they would be lost. This ordinance protects everyone because it allows anyone who witnesses a crime, who knows about criminal activity and anyone who wants to make our city safer to come forward and share that information with police.
It targets police resources on criminals and threats and minimizes the amount of city resources devoted to holding non-criminals and non-threats, just because they were flagged in a federal database as possibly violating federal civil laws.
Most importantly, it defines clearly that the way towards law and order with regard to immigrants is very different than the "build a wall and round them up" approach that has so much traction in the Republican Party and which, unfortunately, many of my fellow Democrats sometimes fall victim to.
The way we get control over crime, the way we get control over immigration, and the way we repair our immigration system so that it stimulates and builds up our economy, both here and nationally, is to look forward, not backwards.
We need laws that match the reality that people are here, people are coming, and that every level of society is more efficient if the federal government sets up a functioning legal system to deal with that reality and keeps up with our modern society.
That is how we end the illegality; that is how we focus law enforcement resources on actual law enforcement; that is how we maximize the positive impact that immigrants and immigration have had and will have on the economy in Chicago and nationally.
And that is how we set a course forward. Mr. Mayor, I applaud you for your vision.