Chicago Aldermen set to reestablish limits to Welcoming City Ordinance
Following an uptick in illegal activities at migrant shelters and police districts throughout the city, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) and several others want to return “commonsense restrictions” addressing public safety back into the city’s Welcoming City ordinance.
Under the Lightfoot administration, all public safety carveouts were removed by the City Council. Those carveouts outlined when, and only when, the municipal government could engage with immigration authorities.
Those carveouts included if the individual had 1) an outstanding criminal warrant; 2) a felony conviction; 3) been named as a defendant in a pending criminal felony case; or, 4) been identified as a known gang member.
The City Council voted 41-8 approving the changes. Joining Ald. Lopez in voting no were Ald. Anthony Napolitano, Ald. Marty Quinn, Ald. Matt O’Shea, Ald. Silvana Tabares, Ald. Nick Sposato, Ald. Brendan Reilly and Ald. Jim Gardiner.
While passed as a rebuke to then-President Donald Trump, the issue of welcoming, or sanctuary, cities have become front and center in the national debate. Republican border state governors like Texas Governor Greg Abbott began sending migrant asylum-seekers to sanctuary cities like Chicago last August.
“As a son of a legal immigrant, I have always been adamantly against Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance. From its inception this ordinance was nothing more than pandering with Chicago being 1450 miles away from the border,” said Napolitano. “Now with our current border crisis Chicago’s bluff has been exposed and we do not have the means or the resources to accommodate the continuous flood of illegal immigrants.”
Roughly 14,000 have been sent to Chicago since August 2022, with approximately 1500 currently being housed in the 22 police districts across Chicago and over 300 at O’Hare International Airport.
“We’ve got more migrants in police stations than officers with more coming, and the city has handcuffed itself when it comes to combating crime,” said Tabares. “Reopening communication to address criminal behavior will improve the safety of all residents regardless of how they got here or how long they’ve called Chicago home.”
The influx of asylum-seekers has caused an uptick in criminal behavior at numerous shelter locations in Chicago. Unfortunately, because City Council removed any avenues for addressing these matters with the federal government, the behavior has grown more frustrating to local neighborhood residents tired of seeing individuals flout the law and disrespect their communities.
“Every week I receive calls asking us to do something about their behavior: the drinking, loitering, drug use, outdoor sex acts,” said Lopez. “Unfortunately, as the law is written now, all we can do is issue an ANOV or hold them in the police district. We must do better and show there are limits to our hospitality to those who choose not to be positive members of our society.”
The proposed change to the law would the city to engage with federal immigration authorities if any non-citizen has been arrested or convicted of gang-related crimes, drug-related crimes, prostitution-related crimes, or crimes involving minors. The ordinance currently has twenty cosponsors.
According to Napolitano, “We are seeing a very concerning increase in crime throughout all our neighborhoods. It is imperative that we reinstate the lines of communication between our city and the federal government to protect Chicago residents.”
Ald. Lopez intends to introduce the ordinance at the September 13th meeting of the Chicago City Council.
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