Melrose Park trustees (below) and members of PASO (above) during a Jan. 23 meeting, where an ordinance designed to make the village a welcoming community was discussed. | Shanel Romain/VFP
Tuesday, January 24, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
During a Jan. 23 regular meeting, members of the Melrose Park Board of Trustees expressed their support for a ‘Welcoming Village’ or ‘Sanctuary Village’ ordinance, a measure that also has the vocal support of numerous community advocates.
Members of PASO – West Suburban Action Project, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants and other vulnerable populations throughout the West Cook County suburbs — including Melrose Park, Stone Park, Maywood and Bellwood — were in the audience, along with District 209 school board member Claudia Medina and representatives from other organizations, during the meeting to express their support of the ordinance.
According to a flyer that PASO posted to its Facebook page, the proposed ‘Welcoming Village’ ordinance would “bar city officials from contacting, collaborating with, or assisting Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) solely because of a person’s immigration status.”
The ordinance would also “draw a firm line between police and ICE, disentangling the criminal and immigration system.”
For instance, federal immigration authorities would not be allowed access to village databases, “facilities, and other resources for the purpose of implementing registries based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, national or ethnic origin, or to conduct civil immigration enforcement.”
Sister Noemia Silva, of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo-Scalabrinians, expressed support for the ordinance during public comment.
“For many of us, our parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were foreigners at one time in this great nation,” Silva said, before offering a person account of how she’s been affected by migration.
“I’ve had the opportunity to serve migrants from diverse backgrounds who have, at times, suffered hardships due to forced immigration,” she said. “I’ve seen too many families destroyed and torn apart due to deportation. My heart breaks to see men and women separated from their children.”
Silva said that she prays and hopes that Melrose Park “can become a just model in which other cities can learn from and imitate.”
“At a time when immigrant communities are under attack, this ordinance will give hope and support immigrants and their families to live, thrive and contribute to the community without fear of deportation,” she said. “Melrose Park can be a ray of light.”
Trustee Arturo Mota said that Melrose Park “has been very supportive of being a welcoming community,” adding that the village has also gotten behind local initiatives and state laws that would ease the burden of living for immigrants.
“When it came out that the state was going out for a vote to give undocumented immigrants an opportunity to get drivers licenses, we lobbied and made sure our state representative was out there voting for it, because we knew how important that was,” he said.
A motion to “establish Melrose Park as a sanctuary village and authorize the offices of the mayor and village attorney to prepare all documents for the aforesaid” was tabled due to Mayor Ronald Serpico’s absence.
Mota said the mayor, who was not at the meeting because of illness, wanted to “address everyone who is for or against” the ordinance before the vote was held.
The board, Mota said, is expected to take a vote on the ordinance at its next regular meeting on Feb. 13. VFP
Shanel Romain contributed to this report.