Last month, Maywood Trustees Ron Rivers, (far right), and Melvin Lightford, (second from right), expressed regrets over voting on a resolution supporting immigrants. But the village had already sent the letter off to President Donald Trump and other high-ranking state and federal officials. | Michael Romain/VFP
Thursday, April 13, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Last month, Maywood Trustee Ron Rivers asked his board colleagues if they could rescind their support of a resolution that they unanimously passed on March 21.
Rivers referenced a March 27 announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that doubled down on previous threats made by President Donald Trump to withhold federal funds from cities who go against the president’s mass deportation orders.
Sessions threatened that the justice department would deny cities that adopt sanctuary ordinances federal law enforcement grants.
The motion passed by the Maywood Board of Trustees calls for the state and the federal government to “support immigrants in the United States of America.”
Unlike sanctuary city ordinances passed by municipalities like Oak Park and, most recently, Berwyn, Maywood’s resolution does not call for village officials to defy federal authorities in any way when it comes to immigration or other matters.
According to Village Manager Willie Norfleet, a certified copy of the resolution had already been mailed to President Trump, Gov. Bruce Rauner, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Danny K. Davis by the time Rivers told his board colleagues about his change of heart.
“I would like for the board to reconsider the motion we passed to send letters to the president and [other officials],” Rivers said during a March 29 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee meeting. “With this notification, I wouldn’t want to put a bull’s eye on our back,” said Rivers, adding that the board hasn’t “asked our citizens how they feel about this.”
Trustee Melvin Lightford seemed to agree.
“In combat, I have enough sense not to put a target at my back,” said Lightford. “Why shake the bush? Just leave it alone.”
Trustee Michael Rogers reinforced his earlier position when a sanctuary city proposal was first introduced by Trustee Isiah Brandon in February. At the time, Rogers said that he would not vote for any ordinance that would put the village at odds with the federal government, but added that the village should nonetheless take a stance in support of immigrants.
“I was careful not to put forward a motion that could be construed as not being in compliance,” Rogers said. “We sent a resolution that urged federal officials up the line to think about what they’re doing and how it affects [people]. It is not a feel-good thing. It is a thing you should do. You should tell your president how you feel about something.
“There is no penalty for expressing your opinion,” Rogers said. “The penalty that the Attorney General is talking about is being in defiance of the law or executive order that was passed.”
Rogers said that if enough municipalities sent similar letters to state and federal officials, “[those officials] would change their tune.”
Brandon said that he stands behind his original proposal for a sanctuary city ordinance in Maywood, an idea that village officials have said they’re still vetting.
“I still stand behind the idea of having a welcoming city,” Brandon said. “And to those who choose to operate in fear, I can’t take that role. Our community is one that is very diverse and we need to let those individuals who are in the immigrant community know that we stand with them.”
“We’re making a large commitment. I have no problem with the label welcoming city,” said Rivers. “I understand we’re all immigrants and we do welcome diverse citizenry but by the same token, I take a stance of why would we put a bullseye on our back?” VFP