This story was produced in collaboration with The Daily Line.
BACK OF THE YARDS — Seven Chicagoans are being detained by federal authorities after back-to-back immigration operations this week, and city officials are slamming U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for attempting to drag Chicago officers into their operations.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said federal officers called 911 for backup during an immigration stop on Tuesday in Back of the Yards, leading Chicago police to the scene.
Under Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance, police and other city employees are prohibited from asking a person about their immigration status or turning undocumented immigrants over to federal agents, but the 911 call essentially tricked CPD into responding, Lopez said.
“This was a bait call to get CPD out there,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately, CPD was manipulated by ICE.”
The incident began around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, when an agent from the Department of Homeland Security called 911 and asked for assistance while serving a warrant in the 4800 block of South Wolcott Avenue, officials said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the call gave emergency dispatchers the sense the officers were in distress, and officers responded.
“We’re getting to the bottom of what precisely happened,” Lightfoot said. “Based on what we know preliminarily, we will be working with the [Office of Emergency Management and Communications] to tighten the protocols to make sure that if there is call that comes saying ‘Homeland Security’ that there are more questions asked before anyone is dispatched.”
Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said officers left the traffic stop once it became clear officers were not in peril and they did not participate in the arrests.
Two people were taken into ICE custody, and their current status is unknown, Lopez said. He said the incident sent a chill through the community, with calls of ICE sightings flooding his office — especially after the arrest of five employees of a Southeast Side pizzeria days earlier.
Lopez said federal agents made a similar 911 call during the raid at the pizza shop.
“We want to make sure this is not part of a larger pattern to forcibly bring CPD, even though we will not actively engage in ICE deportation,” he added.
Lightfoot ordered city officials on Tuesday to tighten the rules governing when Chicago law enforcement officials can help Department of Homeland Security agents enforcing federal immigration law.
She also said she would create additional training or new rules based on the outcome of the inquiry into what happened Tuesday.
“We do not cooperate with ICE immigration actions,” Lightfoot added.
As city leaders look into what happened, activists have been hard at work letting Chicago’s immigrant community know it has support — and urging the city to do more to prevent more raids.
‘This impacts all of us’
Following the raid and the traffic stop, Erendira Rendon, vice president of immigration advocacy at the Resurrection Project in Pilsen and Back of the Yards, said the group is calling for a thorough investigation on what happened so the right policies are put in place and this isn’t repeated.
A coalition of immigrant groups took to the streets this week to find the families impacted and connected them to attorneys, Rendon said.
The Resurrection Project, the Southwest Organizing Project and United Workers Center also hosted Know Your Rights workshops Tuesday night to give residents a place to be to ask questions. The organizations are also planning on hosting more events through churches.
Rendon said it is imperative that residents remain silent in the face of ICE agents.
It may prevent your arrest, and if it doesn’t, it can help attorneys with your case, Rendon said.
Although Chicago is a self-declared “sanctuary city,” where officers are prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration agents in most cases, groups are urging Lightfoot to issue an executive order to combat President Donald Trump’s threats and reassure frightened residents.
The proposed order would prohibit Chicago officials from fulfilling requests for information, support or equipment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Without a warrant signed by a judge, officers would be prevented from aiding agents in any way.
Lightfoot has yet to sign off on this plan, however.
For now, Lopez urged residents to know their rights and stick together.
“Just because our president isn’t tweeting about us doesn’t mean he isn’t still out to get us,” Lopez said. “This impacts all of us. We have seen where other communities have come together and we will do exactly the same in my communities.”
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