Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago stopped by “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Monday night to declare Chicago a “Trump-free zone.”
Emanuel had appeared on the show before when Letterman was the host in 2015, but he used his most recent appearance with Colbert to escalate his criticism of Donald Trump, especially when it comes to the president’s immigration policy.
“Our motto: A city he’ll never sleep in. We don’t want him,” Emanuel said to kick off his segment.
Colbert questioned the enforcement of that rule, particularly with “a Trump hotel right on the river there,” to which the mayor touted his record of opposing the Trump administration.
In the interview, Emanuel talks about free community college for Chicago students, as well as free college tuition for DREAMers, who maintain a B average in high school, possibly suing the environmental protection agency over allegations of dumping steel in Lake Michigan, and recent climate change policy changes mayors around the world are adopting.
“Look, Donald Trump is driving forward looking through the rearview mirror and I’m not going that way because I want my city going that way,” he said, gesturing forward, “and I want it to be a Trump-free zone.”
“He really, never really likes it when I do that though,” Emanuel added.
Colbert then questioned why under Emanuel, Chicago is seen as somewhat of a “sanctuary city,” a term used for a city that shelters illegal immigrants and protects them from deportation.
“How is that not sort of a constitutional crisis?” Colbert asked.
Emanuel deflected at first, returning to a familiar anecdote about the arrival of his immigrant grandfather in Chicago 100 years ago, proclaiming that the city that welcomed his ancestors and made him mayor is “the greatest city in the greatest country in the world.”
“That doesn’t necessarily answer my question,” Colbert pushed back. “I’m all for what you’re doing, but I’m just curious how it doesn’t violate federal law for you to do this.”
“Because the police department in the city of Chicago is not supposed to be enforcing the immigration laws of the United States government. That’s what the federal government is for,” Emanuel responded, adding that stricter enforcement of immigration laws would counteract his work “building relationships between the police department and communities” – an area that has been the subject of intense scrutiny and structural reform in the wake of high-profile police shootings like that of Laquan McDonald in 2014.
“I’m not driving a wedge – that is what Donald Trump wants, is a wedge on the philosophy of community policing,” Emanuel told Colbert. “It’s absolutely antithetical to everything we’re trying to do.”