More on the Chicago "Welcoming" Ordinance: Fig Leafs and Pandering

By W.D. Reasoner on July 16, 2012

After the city of Chicago announced a "welcoming" ordinance that is a thinly veiled sanctuary law closely mirroring the one in Cook County, Ill., (in which the city sits, but is politically independent from), I wrote a blog expressing my dismay at such political theater, describing it as "agitprop".

Now another article about the ordinance has been published by the New York Times. According to the article, "[Mayor Rahm] Emanuel and police officials have been under fire for a gang problem in Chicago, with homicides up 39 percent from a year ago. The mayor said the proposed ordinance would encourage some immigrants to help the police without fear of being deported."

Really? I'm hard-pressed to make the connection myself. I don't see how letting arrested illegal-alien criminals go by refusing to honor federal immigration detainers makes any community safer.

But even taking the mayor at his word for a moment, one is compelled to ask: Where is the rest of the roll-out for this well-planned, thoughtful initiative? You know, the 24-hour-a day hotline in several languages; the promise of anonymity to those who wish it; the agenda for police community relations officers to blanket immigrant neighborhoods to discuss meaningful ways of working together; and small, but equally important, the police or district attorney assistance program to aid illegal aliens in applying for and obtaining the multiplicity of visas that are available as a matter of law to victims or witnesses of crime?

All of these pieces of the puzzle appear to be missing in action. I can't imagine they would have been left out of the grand announcement if they existed.

And how about the measurement programs to determine the success or failure of the ordinance? You know, the statistically neutral methodologies that can actually get the metrics needed to tell police and city officials whether the ordinance truly makes any difference whatsoever in reporting rates, arrest rates, conviction rates, and all of the other "minutiae" that one uses to gauge effective criminal justice programs.

There are many reasons to doubt that this city ordinance will be effective, using the mayor's yardstick. (See, for instance, this recent blog by the Center's Director of Policy Studies, Jessica Vaughan.)

If the mayor and his police administration were interested in achieving the aims he claims, they would have all of these adjunct pieces in place. Yet where are they? Their absence is profound. And that, I think, says all there is to say about the legitimacy of the mayor's assertion. It is a fig leaf grossly inadequate in size to do the job of masking this monumental example of pandering.