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Aldermen cool to immigration debate

Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, didn’t get any takers tonight when he suggested at the Human Services Committee meeting that Evanston aldermen should join the debate on immigration that’s roiling parts of the country.

But the issue’s likely to come up again since he did persuade them to let Human Services Director Jay Terry research the issue for the committee.

Ald. Moran said he was confident that given the liberal stance most Evanston aldermen take on social issues that there was no chance the council would adopt a restrictive ordinance or a resolution promoting restrictive actions regarding immigrant rights.

But Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said he saw no reason for the council to get involved with the issue since "there’s no problem here in Evanston now."

He added, "The winds that are blowing on this issue now are winds to the extreme right. Right up in Waukegan there’s a community very divided about this issue."

Ald. Jean-Baptiste, an immigrant himself, said, "I’d just hate to have to confront the hate. I’ll be on the cutting edge of the fight if the hate shows its ugly head. But I’m suggesting that in the place we’re in right now, since we don’t have to step into it, we shouldn’t."

He added that he believes the majority of immigrants in Evanston are here legally.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said, "I have no problem discussing it, but if it’s not broke, we don’t need to fix it. I don’t think we’ve had any major issues — immigration raids or anything like that. Sometimes when you stir the pot, it boils over."

Ald. Moran said he was thinking of some action along the lines of a resolution passed by the Chicago city council condemning workplace raids by immigration authorities.

Alderman Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, said, "I don’t know that we have similar problems," suggesting there’ve been no such raids in Evanston.

"I clearly don’t want to open this up and we become like Waukegan. It’s nice to line up and state our opinion, but I’m a little concerned too," Ald. Bernstein said, suggesting that raising the issue might just increase the size of hate groups opposing immigrants.

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