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During this summer of Trump, the nation's undocumented immigrants are under attack. All 11 million of them are unrealistically threatened with mass deportation. And the U.S. House has passed a measure that would strip federal law enforcement grants from “sanctuary cities” that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.
But sanctuary cities, including Chicago, don't provide a safe haven for habitual felons, as immigration hawks allege. Since people in fear of deportation are less likely to cooperate with authorities when they witness a crime or become victims themselves, undocumented immigrants aren't rounded up in those cities or detained when they're charged with minor crimes if they otherwise would qualify for release.
Too many in the political class are even targeting people who are here legally, most notably children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrant mothers who, it's argued, hope to parlay their children's citizenship into quick permanent-resident status and eventual U.S. citizenship for themselves.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his rivals have gone so far as to question whether the Constitution's 14th Amendment means what it says, as it unquestionably does, when it grants citizenship to those born on U.S. soil. But since only adults can petition for their noncitizen parents' permanent residence, those parents would need to wait 21 years before leveraging their child's U.S. citizenship to upgrade their immigration status.
A CITY OF IMMIGRANTS
Unabashed nativists have found reason to blur the line between those relatively few immigrants who sneaked into the country or overstayed their visas to harm others or unlawfully enrich themselves and the vast majority of immigrants who came here to chase the American dream along with the rest of us. But in Chicago, a city of immigrants who, throughout the generations, have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life, cooler heads prevail.
Chicago aldermen Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th, Ricardo Munoz, 22nd, and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, along with representatives of 14 advocacy organizations—the Chicago Immigration Policy Working Group—have taken up Mayor Rahm Emanuel on his challenge to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the nation.
Their proposals include providing access to emergency services for non-English speakers; low-cost legal representation in Chicago's immigration courts; support for immigrant survivors of crime and victims of civil and labor rights abuses; and a privacy- protected municipal ID card for immigrants to access government, banking and medical services.
Let's support the group's proposals to remove the barriers that prevent Chicago's immigrants from living independent and productive lives, and show the rest of the country how respecting immigrant rights works to the advantage of all of us.
Marc J. Lane is a Chicago-based business and tax attorney and financial adviser.
Adapted from Marc Lane's September 1, 2015 editorial which appeared in Crain's Chicago Business. Crain Communication Inc.'s permission is gratefully acknowledged. Copyright © 2015 by Crain’s Communications Inc.
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