Aldermen disagree

Aldermen on Evanston’s Human Services Committee split Monday over how to address the issue of illegal immigration.

Aldermen disagree

Some speakers from the audience suggested stronger efforts to discourage immigration.

But the aldermen disagreed about whether to just call for more open federal immigration policies or to also codify existing city practices supportive of immigrants.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, a Haitian immigrant, voiced fear that calling attention to the city’s welcoming approach could lead to targeting of Evanston’s immigrant population by federal authorities.

“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.

But Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, who favored a version of the resolution that would direct city employees to ignore a person’s immigration status when rendering services, said he believes those fears are unfounded, given that Cook County has already adopted a resolution with similar language.

“If Cook County has not been retaliated against,” Moran said, “Then the City of Evanston will not be if it adopts this resolution.”

Aldermen Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, and Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, called for postponing action on the resolution until the city’s legal staff could determine whether language in either version would put the city at legal risk.

Bernstein, the committee chair, said the issue would be back on the committee’s agenda for its March 3 meeting and that it would “probably be April” before the issue gets to the full City Council.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Get back to the budget
    The aldermen should not even be addressing this “issue-of-the-moment”. The craziness around it will pass soon enough. They need to get back to cutting the budget. Pronto.

  2. Ditto on Getting Back to the Budget
    This article highlights the current problem with our esteemed Alderman. Either they are totally incompetent by ‘majoring in the minor’, or they are competent, but simply derelict in their duties, which on further thought, is incompetent. They need to stick to balancing the budget crisis. This is like a major catastrophic fire going on, and they are standing around pondering whether they think the red paint on the fire truck needs painting.


    1. What sort of Rhetoric is this?
      I can’t believe that the city council thinks that it is appropriate to stoop to this level of rhetoric. To label all argument against something as being rascist is not only counter-productive but reprehensable. Where is there room for open and honest discussion? Many people hold concerns involving illegal immigration that are not based on skin color. While I personally favor amnesty and agree with much in the resolution, I can’t help but question these unethical tactics. There are concerns beyond skin color involved with illegal immigration, including wages, job availability, identity theft, and overburdenned social services.
      While I couldn’t care less about the legal status of my hispanic neighbors, I have to question the gall of a city council to gaurantee social services out of hand, when we have no guarantee that the city can even afford to offer these services.
      While the wealthy can afford to pay Evanston’s ever increasing taxes and the poor can benefit from this taxation, where is there room in Evanston for a middle class? Apparently we need sanctuary too.

  3. The City Council needs to focus on real problems
    It’s maddening to read about nonsensical debates about immigration and free services for illegal aliens when the City Council can’t handle the large issues of budget, the pension deficit, or simply maintaining city property. i.e. roof on Civic Center, fountain square, etc. Are they thinking about how the city will operate when the majority of senior leadership retires during the course of this year?

  4. What is Moran’s motivation?
    I find it interesting that Alderman Moran who is the primary architect of Evanston’s city sanctuary proposal is also a civil rights attorney. I wonder who his clients are? I also wonder if this city sanctuary proposal with it’s DISCRIMINATORY rhetoric of racism if you oppose illegal immigration laws is a round-about ploy by Moran to appease and perhaps gain clients? If so, isn’t there some degree of conflict of interest going on here? I mean, what precipated the sudden need for this city sanctuary policy in the first place? Was there an event? Was there an illegal immigrant who was wronged by city officials? Or is it another example of Moran’s obsession to supposedly protect the rights of those who can’t afford housing or who are in this country illegally but still need a city sanctuary law to provide them government services such as health care, schooling, and LEGAL ADVICE without requiring proof of citizenship. By that logic, what’s the value of being a U.S. citizen? Remember, Moran was the one who pushed to raise the transfer tax to fund more affordable housing. He was even passing out fliers to get people to support the transfer tax referendum. Yet, most voters saw through that con game twice because Evanston has by far the most diverse housing of any Chicago suburb hands down. You can buy a single family home in Evanston in the 200k price point. You can’t do that anywhere else on the Northshore and in most northwest suburbs. But, Moran keeps insisting that there’s a hostile and racist environment here and so we need that city sanctuary ordinance. I’m sure before his term is up he will find some other way to get funds for affordable housing, probably through taxation. And he does all this at a time when Evanston’s budget is in crisis mode, and there’s talk of a 15 percent tax increase. The irony here is that tax increases makes housing less affordable. Talk about clueless and out-of-touch elected leaders. We NEED change we can believe in.
    Anonymous Al

  5. Evanston city sanctuary adds risk of dangerous drivers
    If the Evanston city sanctuary passes, then city employees would not be allowed to “disclose information regarding the citizenship or immigrant status of any person unless required to do so by law.” Also, Evanston police would not be able to “make inquiries into immigration status for the sole purpose of determining whether an individual has violated the civil immigration laws.” I can’t believe the Evanston police chief has signed off on this. So, lets say if a city employee or Evanston police officer for whatever reason comes across someone they know or suspect is an illegal immigrant, they will KNOW that illegal immigrant does not have a valid drivers license. Right? Well, go to this link and learn why we have to know who are the illegal immigrants.

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