Bennett Johnson

Nearly 100 people turned out for the Human Services Committee discussion of immigration issues in Evanston Monday and about two dozen people spoke. Here are excerpts from some of the comments.

Nearly 100 people turned out for the Human Services Committee discussion of immigration issues in Evanston Monday and about two dozen people spoke. Here are excerpts from some of the comments.

Bennett JohnsonBennett Johnson
708 Washington St.

Immigration laws are designed primarily to exclude racial groups, starting with the Chinese. But the Irish, the Jews, southern Europeans, Africans and today the Haitians, all have been excluded at various times

Economics is what drives immigration. The reason Hispanics come across the border is because of our need for a cheap labor force, just like the slaves from Africa or the Irish.

We should speak to the conscience of America … and treat each other like human beings.

Fortino LeonFortino Leon
1217 Dodge Ave.

Immigrants have brought a lot to Evanston and have tried to create a good life for their families.

As immigrants we face discrimination. Employers tend to pay us less. They say we can produce more, can take more hardships.

Some African-Americans when they are mistreated raise the issue of being mistreated for their race, and the boss says ‘How can I continue to give you a job when you’re coming in late or not doing the job?’

Hispanics do care about African-Americans and want to join with them to make a better standard of living in the area, to work together for a better Evanston.

Loretta LineLoretta Line
1425 Howard St.

Has experience with domestic violence programs from working at the Evanston North Shore YWCA.

Domestic violence victims are often further abused, because their abusers threaten them with deportation.

This is about victim safety and the ability to report crime without fear of repercussions.

Good intentions of city employees aren’t enough. Good intentions often can’t stop bad things from happening.

Let’s put it [current city policy] in writing.

John DrennanJohn Drennan
400 Main St.

This resolution could put Evanston at risk for litigation and jeopardize the safety of its citizens.

Aldermen should remove the hate language which infers that those who oppose illegal immigration are racists.

As written the resolution makes little distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants have earned that distinction through tireless effort, patience and hard work. This resolution does them great disservice.

You should remove the specific proposals for reform of immigration laws until you can hold a referendum on the issue.

Judith TreadwayJudith Treadway
226 Callan Ave.

An activist with the local NAACP.

I have not received any complaints from any person with a Spanish last name regarding any discriminatory practices in Evanston. On the other hand I have received complaints from at least five African-American residents … about not being able to keep their jobs because of the number of Hispanics hired.

I don’t feel this resolution is necessary. We have not had any pattern of practices that have unfairly treated any non-cizizen resident of the community in the delivery of any services.

Evanston is very diverse ehtnically and racially. We want all our citizens to be afforded the same courtesy.

The poor people of our community are the ones who suffer all the time — regardless of the color of their skin or ethnicity.

Kathy ChiwahKathy Chiwah
942 Ridge Court

I moved to Evanston because of the concern here about justice and diversity and human rights, and because it’s asafe place.

If law enforcement resources are spending time checking immigration status, it makes us less safe.

Victims and witnesses will be scared to go to the police if they think the police will be looking into their immigration status.

Let the federal government handle immigration. Let Evanston build up the just, safe community we already have.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. 100 citizens show up for a silly proposal and …
    100 citizens show up for a silly proposal by the council and — a handful come to the budget meeting. Maybe council members are smarter than they appear — that is they create a diversion off the real problems and talk about a nonsense ordinance.

    Those in support of this ordinance, seem to think the police will have time to enforce immigration laws – please. The police can not even keep up with all the criminals in this town and the crimes they are continually committing. The council know we have over 100 problem buildings in town some of these drug houses. They know since citizens keep on complaining at council meetings and ward meetings that they have drug houses in their neighborhoods and all the break ins and other problems associated with them.

    Anyone with even the slight intelligence should realize the council has too much time on their hands for nonsense and too little time to deal with real issue such as the police and fire pension problem which they mismanaged for years.

    When council members tell you they work full time at their part-time job which they should get family medical benifits for $67 a month – you should ask them what do they really do?

  2. Meeting transcript for suggestions on altering the resolution
    Just so there aren’t any misconceptions regarding my published comments in the Evanston Now article, here is a transcript of my citizen comment:

    I believe that if Evanston is going to entertain a resolution promoting humanitarian causes such as immigration policy, it is important that it be fulfilled in a way that concurrently protects its citizens.

    While I understand it is not Evanston’s “job” to police immigration or directly enforce Federal law, it is our duty as a city of the United States to pass measures that fully support, complement, and cooperate with Federal law.

    Upon reading this resolution I became concerned because, while I believe it promotes a worthy humanitarian cause, I do not believe it satisfies either of the aforementioned premises. In fact, I believe that it could potentially put the city at risk for litigation as well as jeopardize the safety of it’s citizens. When such efforts to protect a group potentially put a city or it’s citizens in harm’s way, it ceases to be purposeful.

    Upon further investigation I was put in contact with the Immigration Law Reform Institute, who offered to write an opinion paper on my behalf to discover the extent of those risks. You have all been sent copies, but should you not have received one, a copy can be forwarded to you. Their findings confirm that the resolution is unlawful and could potentially put Evanston at risk for litigation, if passed.

    In addition, the resolution poses other risks, which the opinion paper did not address. For example, the resolution proposes accepting a Matricula Consular as an acceptable form of identification. The Matricula Consular can be obtained fraudulently and is a widely counterfeited form of identification. It simply does not satisfy an adequate level of scrutiny necessary for acceptance. Financial institutions in Mexico won’t accept the matricula consular for that very reason! Accepting such would create vulnerabilities for potential misuse and fraud.

    For these reasons I strongly urge the human services committee to keep this resolution in committee and review it’s content until such time as the following metrics are fulfilled:

    1. The resolution should support, compliment, and cooperate with existing Federal law. This includes:
    a. Directing law enforcement officials to determine the citizenship status of any person being detained for an alleged crime as a matter of public safety.
    b. Requiring more stringent identification measures to prevent potential misuse and fraud.

    2. Remove the hate language. Inferring that anyone is anti-immigrant or racist (as this resolution does) is just as ill conceived as what you purport their views to be. If you want to extinguish hurtful rhetoric, it goes both ways.

    3. Adequately define the group of people for whom the resolution is designed to protect. The resolution, as written, makes little distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants have earned a distinction through their tireless efforts, patience, and hard work. I believe speaking of the two groups as if they’re the same does legal immigrants a disservice.

    4. Remove ANY inference that we as a city support a specific immigration platform including a path to citizenship, amnesty, or family reunification until public sentiment can be accurately gauged via referendum. I believe doing otherwise would inaccurately paint the multitude of views that this city claims to encourage.

    I would be happy to volunteer my time in reshaping this resolution should you welcome my assistance.

    Thank you for your time,

    John Drennan

  3. Keep the Silly Proposal in Context
    The Human Services Committee would best serve citizen’s interests by either immediately passing the resolution to the full Council, where it can be tabled, voted down etc, or tabling the resolution entirely. Please keep in mind: we are struggling to fund repairs to City Hall; had to pass by referendum a transfer tax proposal just to keep police and fireman pensions afloat; have effectively mortgaged downtown property taxes to EvMark in the name of fancy bicycle races and corporate chain stores; and are overloading our infrastructure, destroying our city’s character by developer fiat. Excuse me Junad for not mentioning the ‘safe havens’ for drug users and suppliers, but you tackle that nicely. The Council knows it has more pressing issues to face. As citizens, let’s make their life a little easier by simply walking away from this silly proposal. We, the people can always answer such unnecessary legislation at the ballot box. Aren’t aldermanic elections next year.. ?

  4. 11-R-08, Version 3 (03 MAR 2008)
    I’d like to suggest that the vast majority of Evanstonians STILL aren’t aware that this 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, 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 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… “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 for so many days across so many statelines to BRING DOWN THE FULL FORCE OF FEDERAL LAW 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?

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