Aldermen on Evanston’s Human Services Committee adopted a resolution Monday calling on the federal government to reform the nation’s immigration laws.

But they rejected on a 4-1 vote a resolution that would have also codified existing city practices of not inquiring about the immigration status of persons seeking government assistance.

The issue now goes to the full city council where it’s expected to be on the agenda for next Monday’s meeting.

Most aldermen on the panel had expressed reluctance to address the issue when it was first raised last fall by Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward.

They said the resolution would make no change in existing city policy and would draw activists on the issue from outside the community to Evanston.

But Moran, aided by a group of pro-immigrant activists, developed the so-called “humane and just treatment” resolution anyway.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, responded with the substitute resolution approved Monday that only addressed federal immigration policy.

Jean-Baptiste, an immigrant from Haiti, voiced fears that addressing city policy in the resolution could lead to federal immigration authorities targeting immigrants in Evanston for enforcement activity.

Jean-Baptiste’s resolution calls for federal legislation that would:

  • Provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants in the country who have not committed crimes against society.
  • Allow undocumented parents of American-born children to remain in the U.S. under temporary protective status.
  • Reduce delays in processing immigration documents.
  • Devote more resources to processing immigration requests at the border and less to deportation efforts.
  • End discriminatory treatment of applications for immigration relief on the basis of race, gender, national origin or economic class.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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3 Comments

  1. Hmmm. Seems our City Council backed off a little.
    Its one thing to be sympathetic.

    Its another thing to encourage municipal employees to break the Reply

  2. Still doubting the sincerity of the motive…for distorted logic
    I’d like to suggest that the vast majority of Evanstonians STILL aren’t aware that 11-R-08 has been staged and in process. They may or may not take lightly the underlying premise that we are UN-humane and UN-just in our “…treatment for immigrants and their families.” They might be equally surprised that our Human Services Committee now wishes to identify us as more than a mere municipality. As of our most recent open meeting at the Civic Center this week, we are now holier than thy FED, and by God, our Congresswoman will flaunt full credit. Using us in the name of Human Rights and with no regard for potential legal fees to defend us from outrageous egoism (if not from profiteering on the part of Committee members) is both insult and folly.

    And with specific regard to our most recent open meeting at the Civic Center this week… “What would Martin Say?”… I remember what he told us at SDS, SNCC and CORE in the late 1960’s. Martin would say, Martin did say, in so many ways through so many days across so many statelines to BRING DOWN THE FULL FORCE OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ENFORCE OUR EXISTING LAWS.

    Our existing laws are UN-humane and UN-just? Not worthy of enforcement? Not worthy of Evanston? Not worthy of us? Ask Human Services Committee member Mr. Moran, with the law firm on LaSalle. He just motioned to approve version 3 of 11-R-08, and (hey) the rest of us just have a little life by a big lake. How do you like it?

  3. An Alderman to be proud of
    It seems like far, few, and in between on the Illinois political scene, have I had the opportunity to see true leadership staring me right in the face. Last night was one of those nights. The Evanston Human Services committee had heard its share of testimonies from both sides of the aisle concerning The Evanston Resolution for Humane and Just Treatment of Immigrants, (illegal aliens that is.) The Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights with its 3 million dollar a year taxpayer subsidized shenanigans was trying to strike once again destroying the Illinois rule of law.

    During the past couple of months, the pro illegal alien community had met with Alderman Ed Moran behind closed doors, paving the way for this unlawful measure to be thrust down the throats of Evanston residents. The Resolution by the way, would label anyone who disagreed with it as racist. Do you want immigration laws enforced? Well then that label applies to you!

    Concerned citizens like John Drennan stepped up to the plate to speak up on behalf of his community, thankfully someone had the backbone to stand up for what is fair and just.

    The Immigration Reform Law Institute a Washington D.C.-based public-interest law firm
    which, according to its website, is “devoted exclusively to protecting the rights and interests of United States citizens in immigration-related matters.” weighed in on the Evanston proposal reminding the Mayor and City council members that their proposed Resolution was unlawful……..

    “The proposed resolution in question is unlawful. An illegal alien is not qualified to receive public benefits and prohibiting a city official from contacting federal immigration authorities violates federal immigration laws. The city council does not have the lawful authority to regulate immigration, and as such, the city council’s resolution could result in costly litigation to defend an unconstitutional municipal action.”

    What I witnessed was the leadership skills of Alderman Jean- Baptiste a legal Haitian immigrant himself showing the courage to say what was true, and the opposition was not too happy!

    Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, voiced fear calling attention to the city’s illegal immigrant population.

    “Were the stations on the underground railroad marked?” Jean-Baptiste asked. “You want a big flag, a target on the City of Evanston. I suggest this would bring attention to ourselves where we do not need the attention.”

    “It will be a calamity for any individuals” immigration authorities “eventually catch and bring to jail and put through deportation. Where we should aim our arrow should be at the target,” reforming immigration policy, he added.

    It was very clear to me, as Evanston resident John Drennan put it “this resolution could potentially put the city at risk for litigation as well as jeopardize the safety of its citizens.”

    Alderman Jean-Baptist recognized this threat and more, so as a true leader does, he changed the course of his ship. He was not about to cut off his nose to spite his face. He recognized that his first and foremost obligation is to safeguard the fine citizens of Evanston and not put them in harms way with costly litigation, (Evanston is already financially strapped! Residents urged aldermen to reconsider tax and fee increases and service cuts to help balance the city’s budget and pay down a massive police and fire pensions deficit.)

    The alderman also pointed out that Evanston already treats “everyone” Just and Humanely, So why the need for this resolution?

    After all was said and done, the lawful Resolution that Alderman Jean Baptiste drafted as an alternative was voted on and approved by all but one, Alderman Ed Moran who pouted and stomped out of the Human Services Committee meeting.

    Congratulations go out to Alderman Jean-Baptiste for putting “common sense” and the citizens of Evanston first!!

    The full Evanston City Council will vote on this resolution March 10th 2008.

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