Cardenas was joined by the Alliance for Immigrant Rights in a press conference outside a council meeting Feb. 5. The resolution was forwarded to the council’s Committee on Human Relations, which will review and vote on it before sending it to the full council, according to a spokesperson for Cardenas.
“The resolution calls upon President Obama to stop deportations of people who are not criminals,” said Cardenas.
It also calls for the extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, a memorandum signed by the Obama administration that offers deferred prosecution to some people who entered the U.S illegally as children.
“It’s tough enough just to make it as a child in this city, with the violence that occurs on a daily basis,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas gave a passionate, 10-minute speech to the city council, citing the need to protect children who have lost parents to deportation. He spoke primarily about protecting those children who end up in foster care after their parents are deported. Race Forward, a group that researches and analyzes race issues, reported in November 2011 that approximately 5,100 children were in foster care because their parents were detained or deported. These children are U.S. citizens. The group also estimated that in five years, that number could grow to 20,000.
“We’re destroying families on a daily basis, and nobody is saying anything about it,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas also spoke about the U.S. focusing on the human rights records of other nations, while the country is using its legal system to separate families and deport individuals.
“These immigrants often pay taxes, work, buy appliances and own homes,” he said.
According to a Freedom of Information Act request by colorlines.com, between 2010 and 2012, approximately 204,000 people were deported who were also the parents of U.S. citizens.
“Whether they are in jail or deported, we don’t know,” Cardenas said. “What we do know is that the children are left behind, bearing the scars.”
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) said the issue has come up many times, “But when you see no action you have to act.”
Ald. Daniel Solis (25th) talked about the many immigrants who are arrested and jailed.
“Right here in our backyard, in Broadview, Ill., you can go almost every day of the week and you’ll see people coming out, mostly men but some women, in shackles,” said Solis. “Waiting there as they’re coming out are wives, kids, in some cases husbands—put yourselves in the shoes of these people.”
The resolution also refers to Chicago as a “Sanctuary City,” as enacted by former Mayor Harold Washington in 1983. This is an executive order signed by Washington saying that the city of Chicago will not investigate or assist in investigating the citizenship or residency status of any person. This was renewed by former Mayor Richard M Daley in 1989, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel enacted the Welcome City Ordinance in 2012.