Protests in Chicago and the governor and some local mayors telling local law enforcement not to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement put the issue of illegal immigration in focus in Illinois over the weekend.

On the eve of expected ICE roundups of undocumented citizens with legal deportation orders, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said officials there were doing everything they could to help the immigrant community “that we get the word out so that you understand the power that you have and that power is knowledge about your rights.”

In a Facebook video Saturday, Lightfoot said residents should know that unless there’s a signed order from a judge, ICE agents cannot legally enter a house. Lightfoot also told employers they have 72 hours before they have to surrender any paperwork in response to immigration authorities.

Springfield’s mayor last week told Springfield police to not cooperate with ICE. That came after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing a law last month that prohibited such cooperation.

At a news conference Saturday, Lightfoot said officials haven’t been getting clear information about the raids being conducted by the federal government. However, she had a message for President Donald Trump, who talked about the raids several weeks ago but postponed action for discussions on immigration reform that never materialized.

“I hope that the president, and somewhere his conscience is pricked, and he realizes that dangling this sword over people’s heads is causing great harm and trauma to entire households, and entire communities,” Lightfoot said.

State Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, said elected officials encouraging local law enforcement to not cooperate with federal immigration officials was dangerous.

“To say that we’re going to not cooperate with federal agents to deal with illegal immigrants is a violation of the law and I think that, I don’t know, I think the consequences of this can be most severe,” Miller said.

He said elected officials can’t pick and choose which laws to obey, be they state or federal laws.

Miller said illegal immigration hurts taxpayers. It also hurts those who come into the country legally, he said.

“It’s a real slap in the face for those people that went through the process, that did the right thing, and now we’re trying to defend the people who did the wrong thing, broke the law, and came in through the back door, and trying to act like there’s nothing wrong with that,” Miller said.

The scope of federal immigration enforcement actions that were taken over the weekend in Illinois wasn't immediately clear.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.