A Clear View from the Prairie: Harold Washington and the People of Illinois Respond to Federal Encroachment of Human Rights
29 S. Ill. L. J. 285 (Fall, 2004/Winter, 2005)
32 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2017
Date Written: January 1, 2005
The national debate over sanctuary cities demonstrates the deep divide between local community protection of its members and federal law that disrupts family and community bonds. This article discusses two Chicago efforts to prohibit city police from enforcing federal laws. Former Mayor Harold Washington issued his first 1985 Executive Order prohibiting city employees, including police, from cooperating with federal immigration officers unless required by law. Responding to misuse of city records and discriminatory tactics by federal officers, Mayor Washington recognized that civic harmony and health depended upon community trust that Chicago would not partner with federal immigration enforcement. Over a century earlier, the Chicago Common Council, after finding that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 undermined justice and dishonored humanity, prohibited Chicago police from assisting in the apprehension and removal of slaves.
This article examines these two Chicago responses to federal law by: (1) examining the shifting relationship between local and federal enforcement of immigration law since the colonial days; (2) providing the context and rationale for Mayor Washington’s Executive Order 85-1; (3) exploring the context and rationale for the Chicago Common Council’s 1850 order; (4) addressing the proposed 2003 national legislation that sought to require municipal police to assist in enforcing federal immigration law; and (5) surveying the breadth of Mayor Washington’s vision for city government in protecting all community members. His vision to protect human rights, ban discrimination, and build a secure community demonstrated the distinct disadvantages of the proposed Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act of 2003 and the Homeland Security Enhancement Act of 2003. Although neither bill was enacted, Mayor Washington’s vision continues to provide a critique of efforts to involve municipal police in enforcement of immigration law.
Keywords: Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago, 1985 Executive Order on Immigration, Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act of 2003, Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Douglas, unauthorized immigrants, deportation.
JEL Classification: K37, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation