By Joe Guzzardi
July 16, 2012
Pinch me! I must be having a bad dream.
In more craziness from the wacky immigration world—enforcement advocates versus open borders cheerleaders—Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, once President Obama’s White House chief of staff, has sent a welcoming message to illegal aliens. His city will protect them from possible deportation even though they have violated immigration law. According to City Hall officials, Emanuel will soon propose a local ordinance that would bar police officers from turning over illegal immigrants to federal authorities unless the aliens have serious criminal convictions or outstanding warrants. Immigration offenses don’t qualify.
Last summer, Cook County which includes Chicago, passed similar legislation that barred police from detaining illegal immigrants in county jails before remanding them to the feds—unless agents have an existing warrant for a specific individual.
Calling his measure “immigrant friendly,” Emanuel’s action would water down what’s known as Secure Communities, a program that allows law enforcement when making an arrest to access an already-existing federal information-sharing partnership between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The intention is to remove criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety and repeat immigration violators.
Emanuel, however, in his statement to reporters, said: “If you have no criminal record, being part of a community is not a problem for you. We want to welcome you to the city of Chicago.”
Emanuel’s proposal is lunacy. Even if you leave the immigration angle out of the debate, Chicago—like all other major American cities—is reeling. The last thing Chicago needs is more people. Current U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that Chicago is the nation’s third largest city with 2.7 million residents. Chicago’s projected fiscal 2012 budget deficit is $635 million and could, according to the mayor, increase to $800 million by 2014. Realistically assessing his crisis, Emanuel admitted that even an economic recovery will not help Chicago close its budget gap.
That’s not all. Chicago crime has soared. Fueled by a 39 percent spike in Chicago’s homicide rate, aldermen have demanded the return of specialized police units disbanded several years ago in order to put more officers on beat patrol. Aliens not run through Secure Communities could add to the already high crime rate.
Here’s more. Chicago’s convention and tourism chief warned that the spike in capital crime and the return of downtown flash mob attacks causes convention planners to rethink the feasibility of holding their events in Chicago. No question about it; lots of murders turn off tourists. Two summers ago, 65 million Chicago tourists spent nearly $12 billion, generated $656 million in tax revenue and contributed to 132,000 jobs.
Then, there’s the disaster that is the Chicago public school system which has not a penny in the bank and faces a $1 billion deficit as well as a possible teachers’ strike. Need I remind readers that immigrants have or will have children which will require costly English as a second language classes and add to school over-crowding?
“Immigrant friendly” defined properly means that when a legal immigrant arrives in the United States through a port of entry and with the required visa and other necessary documentation, he should be embraced by the community in which he settles.
On the other hand, “immigrant friendly” does not mean as Emanuel and other federal, state and local officials would have you believe, that aliens who have no legal standing in the United States should have access to a wide range of costly public services and immunity from deportation.
Sanctioning more immigration is a lose-lose for Chicago whose citizens deserve better than a mayor sending a message that any alien who can find his way to the Windy City is welcome.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. His columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]