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“Chicago as a Sanctuary City”

Author: Michelle A. Soriano Gonzalez

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract: A common definition for a Sanctuary City is, “... a city or state that provides a safe environment for the undocumented community through noncooperation and nonenforcement of federal anti-immigration policies” (Salgado 2019). Various changes in Chicago’s leadership made possible the enactment of what we now know as a Welcoming City. Pro-immigrant policies began with churches allowing undocumented immigrants to seek refuge in 1982 leading to Mayor Harold Washington’s “Don’t Ask Policy” in 1985 prohibiting city officials from inquiring about citizenship status. This case study seeks to examine the initiatives made by Chicago mayors over the last 34 years: specifically the Daley, Emanuel, and Lightfoot administrations.
Under Daley’s Administration, he affirmed the executive order for Fair & Equal Access to be turned into law. The poster highlights the most changes under Emanuel’s term, including the Welcoming City Ordinance, and defending Chicago’s sanctuary city status following threats from the Trump Administration to cut federal funding. Under Lightfoot’s Administration there was less legislative action done under her term, however she did support Chicago's sanctuary city stance. While the mayor's actions differ, federal and national immigration policies obstruct their efforts. Implications of this study suggest that sanctuary cities cannot offer full protection for undocumented individuals because of federal policy. Therefore, this research recommends that Chicago as a Sanctuary City should offer more resources, such as advocacy for a path to citizenship and local opportunities.

Keywords: Sanctuary City, City Ordinance, Welcoming City, Daley Administration, Emanuel Administration, Lightfoot Administration