Cooperation between Chicago police and ICE Homeland Security Investigations

There are two main components to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is responsible for identifying, arresting, detaining, and removing deportable aliens.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is responsible for investigating a very wide range of immigration and customs activities. These include narcotics and weapons smuggling, financial crimes, cybercrime, human trafficking and smuggling, child exploitation, transnational gangs, immigration document and benefit fraud, and worksite enforcement.

Chicago is a self-declared ‘Welcoming City’ for illegal aliens

Chicago is a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. The Welcoming City Ordinance, enacted in September 2012, prohibits municipal employees from inquiring about people's immigration status, disclosing their citizenship status to federal authorities, or denying city services based on that status.

Immigration activists have unearthed an agreement between the Chicago Police Department and ICE that has people like Rey Wences, a member of an influential group called Organized Communities Against Deportations, in an uproar.

Organized Communities Against Deportations describes itself as an undocumented-led group, so it can at least be understood why they feel a little edgy.

The agreement allows ICE to designate certain Chicago Police Department (CPD) employees as customs officers. As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, those officers are authorized to enforce the full range of federal offenses, with the important exception of civil immigration law violations.

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi notes the CPD will now be allowed to investigate drug trafficking, human trafficking, street gangs and financial crimes, thanks to the agreement with ICE Homeland Security Investigations.

Anthony Guglielmi adds: This is not a partnership in immigration enforcement.

There is no need to apologize

At this point, there is a need to step back and point out that there is nothing wrong with enforcing U.S. immigration law and deporting people who entered the country illegally. That police departments in major cities perceive a need to go on the defensive and plead innocence from accusations of cooperation with federal authorities involved in deportation demonstrates a very sorry state of affairs.

Why immigration activists fear ICE Homeland Security Investigations

In October 2017, then-Acting ICE Director Tom Homan spoke before the Heritage Foundation, and was asked whether his agency would focus attention on companies that hire illegal aliens. These companies incentivize illegal immigration. Homan responded that he had instructed ICE HSI to dramatically step up worksite enforcement actions over the coming year.

In May 2018, ICE announced that Homeland Security Investigations had already doubled the amount of ongoing worksite case investigations, compared to the preceding fiscal year.

An April 2019 report from the leftist National Immigration Law Center pointed out that by involving itself in worksite enforcement, HSI had assumed a role in civil immigration law enforcement, which supposedly was the exclusive domain of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations. An accusation that HSI was engaged in ”rampant racial profiling“ was added by the NILC, enhancing the sense of outrage over government efforts to protect and defend those professional ingrates.

The Chicago Sun-Times article uses the above facts to somewhat-justify immigration advocate fears that ICE HSI could be used in deportation efforts, although the connection is weak, and in any case HSI would only be enforcing U.S. immigration law if they did.

Lori Lightfoot tells the anti-deportation activists to relax

On the following day, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who is all for Chicago's sanctuary city policies — urged the immigration advocates to relax.

The [agreement] is around Homeland Security, which is a distinct and separate activity. It specifically states that they may not participate in immigration enforcement activities, said the mayor.