Rahm Emanuel: Chicago Didn’t Participate in the Fugitive Slave Act, ‘So, Being a Sanctuary City Is in Our History’

On Monday’s broadcast of CBS’ “The Late Show,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that being a sanctuary city is in Chicago’s history because it was the only city that didn’t participate in the Fugitive Slave Act.

Host Stephen Colbert asked Emanuel how Chicago’s sanctuary city status is “different than say, John C. Calhoun declaring nullification of federal law? How is that not a sort of a constitutional crisis?”

Emanuel responded, “First of all, we — I call it a welcoming city, not a sanctuary city. And we welcome immigrants from around the world. There are 140 languages spoken in the Chicago public schools. A hundred years ago, my grandfather came to Chicago, 13-years-old, by himself. Chicago welcomed him, and his grandson now is the mayor. Chicago, the United States, is the greatest city in the greatest country in the world, [bar] none, that an immigrant’s grandson can be the mayor. And here is the other thing, a little history of Chicago, the only city not to participate in the Fugitive Slave Act, of returning slaves back to the South, the city of Chicago. So, being a sanctuary city is in our history.”

He added that Chicago’s police officers are “not supposed to be enforcing the immigration laws of the United States government. That’s what the federal government’s for. That is not what is not what we’re going to be doing. And here’s the other thing, bigger piece of this is, we’re building relationships between the police department and communities. I’m not driving a wedge, that is what Donald Trump wants, is a wedge between –, on the philosophy of community policing. It’s absolutely antithetical to everything we’re trying to do, and actually — which is why police chiefs around the country, big cities, small cities, medium-sized cities, all think what the Justice Department, specifically under Donald Trump, is driving a wedge and a difference between communities and the police departments, when we’re trying to actually build that trust. It’s absolutely antithetical to community policing.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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