Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, having solved all of his city's other problems, assured students Tuesday that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are a declared "Trump Free Zone," and that the city would not turn over any students affected by the President's proposed DACA rollback.
“To all the Dreamers that are here in this room and in the city of Chicago: You are welcome in the city of Chicago. This is your home. And you have nothing to worry about,” Emanuel announced to a group of kids, entering school for the first day of classes. “Chicago, our schools, our neighborhoods, our city, as it relates to what President Trump said, will be a Trump-free zone. You have nothing to worry about."
Emanuel and Chicago Publioc Schools CEO Forest Claypool went on to declare CPS a "sanctuary" school district, though it's not clear that's even an available official designation. Claypool added that Chicago schools would not cooperate with any federal immigration agents who come seeking information about any student.
President Trump, of course, declared on Tuesday that he will end the DACA program that allows the children of illegal immigrants license to remain in the United States even if their parents are captured and charged with violating immigration laws. But the President hesitated on a full rollback, giving Congress six months to come up with comprehensive immigration reform before he officially takes action.
That, of course, makes Emanuel's statements largely inaccurate: there is currently no need to declare Chicago schools a "Trump Free Zone." Of course, though, that might be the smallest problem with Emanuel's statement; although Chicago is a sanctuary city, it's not clear what Emanuel can do about immigration laws as they apply to students, and he certainly can't keep Chicago schools free of all of Trump's influence.
But, in fairness to Emanuel, he needs something to boost his reputation among Chicago's schoolkids and their parents. Although immigration enforcement is likely only an ancillary concern for CPS, it distracts nicely from more pressing priorities that Emanuel does have the power to work on.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the mayor has no novel ideas to address the school system's hundred-million-dollar budget shortfall, and is hoping the state of Illinois will shoulder the burden instead. This is after the school district passed its 2016 budget, which asked for a $500 million bailout from the state that was never authorized. And the Chicago Teachers Union is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars more for schools before they re-sign a contract with the city — and if the city can't find the money, the Teachers Union wants them to raise taxes (yet again).
As for the students, well, Chicago is on track for another record year for murders, and many of the victims will be among CPS enrollees.
Invoking Trump as a foil may be convenient for Rahm Emanuel, but it does little to distract from where the real trouble is brewing, not within the city's immigration issues, but with Rahm himself.