After more than a year on the campaign trail spent sneering at the rise in violent crime in the City of Chicago, Donald Trump promised real, bold action to address the problem. After nearly six months of waiting and more tweets, the Administration ignored the crying need for investment in social services and meaningful police reform in Chicago and, instead, sent some added Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents to assist police in the City.
But even in sending these new ATF officers, the Trump Administration exhibited a fundamental ignorance of what happens in Chicago when it suggested that crime in the City is caused by "illegal aliens," citing Chicago's status as a sanctuary city. The Administration also claimed that — speciously — that crime in Chicago is driven by morality, rather than the flood of illegal weapons on the City’s streets.
The Trump Administration's lie that compassion toward undocumented people causes crime is an attempt to exploit Chicago's serious violence problem to stir hatred against immigrants. As any Chicagoan knows, undocumented persons are not driving crime in our city. Our status as a sanctuary city builds confidence and cooperation between and among the police and various communities of newcomers. The steps taken locally to support newcomers -- no matter their status -- should be applauded and expanded, not denigrated, to ensure that every Chicagoan can interact with law enforcement for assistance, or to report crime without fear of deportation.
Nor will taunts about "morality" help address crime in Chicago. Our City's crime problem is complex, but certainly compounded by decades of segregation and a lack of development in Chicago's Black communities on the West and South sides. Illinois' budget crisis has heightened this problem by cutting off countless social services in these neighborhoods. We face a morality problem, but not the one the Trump Administration described. We have accepted a political quagmire that has starved communities of needed social services and violence prevention programs.
Finally, the Administration has failed to take the most basic step it can -- fixing Chicago‘s broken system of policing. Sending more ATF agents does nothing to address the mistrust between communities of color and the police, caused by decades for racism and failure within the CPD.
After a scathing Department of Justice report in early January highlighting these historic problems, the Trump Administration had a chance to create an environment for reform through a federal consent decree that mandated real change in the CPD. But the DOJ refused to help fix the policing issues, rejecting any meaningful oversight through a consent decree.
Talk and tweets will not solve our problems. Rather than attacks from a bully, Chicago needs reinvestment in social services and violence prevention programs and a federal consent decree to oversee the police department.