Chicago Mayor evokes Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings to support sanctuary for immigrants

Chicago, IL: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was the chief guest at an Indian-American event, said the Windy City’s sanctuary status must be maintained in order to preserve the human dignity of Chicago’s immigrant and poor communities

Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot, speaking at the annual Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities luncheon Sept. 27, 2019. (Photo: Urvashi Verma)

Lightfoot was speaking at the annual Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities luncheon Sept. 27. In honor of Gandhi, Mayor Lightfoot issued a proclamation declaring October 2, 2019,  Mahatma Gandhi Day in the City of Chicago, at the event.

The First Lady of Chicago Amy Eshleman, Consul General of India in Chicago Sudhakar Dalela, Consul General of South Africa Phumzile Mazibuko, Consul General of the United Kingdom John Saville, and Honorary Consul General of Nepal, Marvin Brustin, were among the distinguished guests who attended the event. Other notable guests included prominent business persons Niranjan S. Shah, Vijay Dave, and Maarten de Jeu.

The luncheon was held in honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary, and in her speech, Mayor Lightfoot likened Gandhi’s life journey and fight for human dignity to the current battles faced by residents in Chicago’s immigrant and underserved communities.

“Poverty is the worst form of violence,” Lightfoot said, quoting Gandhi. “This is about human dignity. We are going to give all people, in every community, especially the neediest and including the immigrant community their dignity,” said Lightfoot, referring to her unwavering support for Chicago’s sanctuary city status.

Chicago’s sanctuary city ordinance bars police from giving federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials access to people in local custody, specifically prohibiting on-duty police officers from talking with ICE officials before a person’s release, or allowing agents to use local police facilities for investigations or interviews.

Consul General from India, Sudhakar Dalela, Mrs Pratima Shah, First Lady of Chicago Amy Eshleman, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Smita N Shah, Niranjan Shah and Dr Vijay Dave at Delhi Committee of the Chicago Sister Cities Annual Luncheon on Sept 27, 2019. (Photo: Asian Media USA)

Illinois passed the Trust Act which prevents law enforcement from detaining anyone solely on the basis of their immigration status without a judicial warrant.

Shortly after taking office this summer, Lightfoot ordered the Chicago Police Department to deny ICE access to all department databases related to federal civil immigration enforcement amid concerns of large-scale immigration arrests.

United States Senator Richard J. Durbin, D-Illinois, who also attended the even, spoke to members of the Indian community about the importance of immigrants in this country.

“Immigrants in this country have made a tremendous contribution,” said Durbin. “This Senator believes in immigration. This Senator stands by the communities of the City of Chicago,” Durbin said.

In partnership with World Business Chicago, each year the event celebrates the long-standing and global impact of Gandhi’s teachings, imparting principles of truth, non-violence, and the pursuit of human rights exemplified by Gandhi’s life and legacy.

Gandhi has remained a key figure in the fight for human rights even today exemplifying the value of global exchanges, said Smita Shah chairman of the Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities.

“Chicago has a unique history with India, from the Parliament of World Religions in 1893, when Swami Vivekananda came and spoke of the universal unity of religion. It is fitting that Chicago is among the first to recognize Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth Anniversary,” Shah said.

“Chicago and the Delhi Committee is one of the first to have an annual Mahatma Gandhi celebration. “This is unique, and we are honored to do it,” commented Andrea Zopp, former Deputy Mayor and CEO of World Business Chicago.

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