“The more you take tools away from officers, the harder it is to do the job effectively.”
A veteran Chicago Police Officer told Chicago City Wire that moves by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to protect illegal immigrant criminals from being deported have made it even harder to serve and protect the crime-ridden city.
The officer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of political retribution by Emanuel, added that an overwhelming number of Chicago police officers oppose so-called "sanctuary" legislation, which prevents them from to notifying federal immigration authorities when an illegal immigrant is arrested for a crime.
“I would say no more than 5 percent support it,” the officer said. "And they would only be officers who have family that would be directly impacted.”
Over the objections of law enforcement, Rauner signed legislation last month to make the Illinois a "sanctuary state," following the lead of Emanuel, who deemed Chicago a "sanctuary city" in 2016.
The status of the city has drawn the ire of the Trump administration with the Department of Justice vowing to withhold federal funds from Chicago law enforcement. The city responded by filing a lawsuit against the DOJ.
Often lost in the “sanctuary” debate is the voice of the police officers who patrol the streets daily.
The officer told Chicago City Wire the community should know more about what sanctuary status means when it comes to handling criminals.
“They should know that even if we witness an offender pull the trigger and shoot someone and they volunteer info that they are here illegally, we are not allowed to notify ICE,” the longtime police officer said. “They will go through the system just like anyone else and likely be released back into the community.”
From the perspective of law enforcement officers, limiting the ability to coordinate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, takes a tool away from officers and makes it more difficult to enforce long-term strategies to reduce crime.
“It's a tool that is taken away from officers. Similar to the partial legalization of marijuana or stop and frisk,” the officer said. “The more you take tools away from officers, the harder it is to do the job effectively.”
Instead, law enforcement officers would like the option to deport criminals as they are arrested.
“If somebody commits a crime and they are here illegally, we should be able to hold them for ICE and turn them over,” the officer said.
The officer said that most Hispanic officers working for the Chicago Police Department are among those against sanctuary status.
“Most are like other officers,” the officer said. “You may have a small percentage that support the policy because a change could directly impact some family members. But even those officers would agree if a person commits a crime other than being here illegally, that person should be deported.”