Breaking: Maywood Considers Becoming a Welcoming Village or Sanctuary City

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a Feb. 15 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees directed village attorney Michael Jurusik to provide information related to the possibility of the board passing an ordinance that would designate the village either a Welcoming Village or Sanctuary City.

The proposal was introduced by Trustee Isiah Brandon, who said he was motivated to bring the matter to the board’s attention after a sobering story about a child of immigrants who lives in a neighboring suburb.

“I was listening to a story about someone in a neighboring community, a seventh-grader, who was scared to go to school because he was afraid that his parents may not be home when he got back from school,” Brandon said. “People should not be intimidated by what’s happening nationally.”

Brandon’s proposal comes just two days after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it had conducted raids in several metropolitan areas across the country, including in the Chicago area. Agency officials said that ICE arrested 680 people across the country “who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.”

Forty-seven of those arrests took place in the Chicago area, with one arrest happening in Melrose Park.

Brandon’s proposal didn’t get any pushback from other board members, but some trustees suggested that the village take a cautionary approach to adopting the measure.

“What might make a lot of sense is to, in addition to whatever drafts might come forward regarding Maywood, that we start to do some study and research on any ramifications for those kinds of things,” said Trustee Michael Rogers. “I know [welcoming village and sanctuary city ordinances] can be somewhat controversial, so we need to make sure we’re careful in the way we’d try implementing something like that.”

“I don’t have a reservation about this, but I don’t want us to lock ourselves into [something],” said Trustee Ron Rivers, who, along with Rogers, suggested that village officials investigate the possible ramifications related to becoming either a Sanctuary City or a Welcoming Village.

There’s a difference between the two, Rivers noted.

A Welcoming Village ordinance is more of a symbolic, albeit formal, gesture made by a municipality indicating to immigrants who may reside in its boundaries that they will be treated as equals.

A Sanctuary City ordinance would entail protecting immigrants in Maywood from certain actions made by federal agencies, such as ICE.

For instance, enacting a Sanctuary Village ordinance could put local police in the position to decline requests from ICE officials to access local 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,” according to a recent report by the Washington Post.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 300 municipalities across the country have enacted Sanctuary City legislation, including Chicago, Cook County and, most recently, Oak Park. The villages of Melrose Park and Forest Park are also considering becoming Sanctuary Cities.

But village officials in Maywood, while generally supportive of the principle undergirding the legislation, raised concerns at Wednesday night’s meeting about the possible financial impact of declaring the village a sanctuary.

Rogers and Rivers expressed concerns that declaring Maywood a Sanctuary City could trigger a loss of important state and federal funding. The village would not be able to absorb such losses as well as neighboring municipalities, Rogers said.

Whether or not local municipalities would actually lose federal funding by adopting Sanctuary City legislation, however, is a matter of considerable national debate — despite President Donald J. Trump’s campaign pledge to “eliminate all federal funding from sanctuary localities.”

“Cities, counties and states with sanctuary policies get federal money from dozens of different departments, most of which are not related to immigration,” the Post reported.

“Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order asked the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to withhold ‘federal funds, except as mandated by law’ from sanctuary cities,” the paper noted. “This is unclear wording that puzzled elected officials and municipal attorneys. Homeland Security funds could include money allocated to cities for counterterrorism.”

Jurusik — who said that his firm, Kleine, Thorpe & Jenkins, does work for Oak Park — noted that he’ll look to make sure that the village isn’t putting itself into a position to lose state or federal funding unnecessarily.

“If it’s the pleasure of the board to be a welcoming city, as opposed to a sanctuary city, we’ll look at that to make sure we can get our point across about having open borders and being a welcoming city, but without regulation that may hamstring us from being able to receive a federally funded state grant or federal grant,” Jurusik said.

Rogers recommended that board members educate themselves on the matter during an upcoming National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C.

Once that additional information is gathered by board members, village staff members, and Jurusik, the board will consider what, if any, actions it plans to take on the matter. It could be two months before any ordinance is put to a vote — if the process gets that far. VFP

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