Friday 22nd February 2019

Latest welcoming community ordinance part of larger push

Supporters say latest welcoming community ordinance part of larger push

FILE - police, traffic stop
Shutterstock photo


Supporters of the latest welcoming community ordinance in Illinois say the push is not about creating a sanctuary city, but they hope for something more than a simple change in police policy.

Bloomington is the latest to look at a welcoming ordinance.

Tom Cullen with Illinois People’s Action said a welcoming ordinance is not the same as a sanctuary city policy, although they both prohibit local police from asking about immigration status or holding people who are in this country illegally for federal immigration authorities. 

“What it’s talking about is how the police [in Bloomington] are going to treat the immigration population,” Cullen said. “And how they are going to facilitate the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in that community.”

While neither “sanctuary city” or “welcoming city” has an official legal definition, sanctuary cities generally discourage or prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials, while welcoming cities prevent law enforcement and other government officials from asking about legal status. The terms can vary from one community to the next depending on the local governing body’s intent.

Cullen said the ultimate goal of his organization is to expand the scope of who has a right to be in this country under the 14th Amendment.

“No state shall deny due process of law to any person,” Cullen said. “Or equal protection under the law to any person. That means any human being in that state.”

Cullen said supporters hope to get immigration added as a protected class, like race or sexual orientation. 

There are about a dozen welcoming communities in the state. Cullen said most of them are suburban or university towns.

Bloomington leaders are set to talk about the ordinance Dec. 18. Cullen wants a vote by Christmas.

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