City officials discuss expanding protections for undocumented immigrants in wake of Trump election


Daily file photo by Zack Laurence

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl speaks during a town hall meeting earlier this year. This week, Tisdahl and city manager Wally Bobkiewicz called for City Council members to reaffirm Evanston’s support for immigrant rights.

Sam Krevlin, Reporter

Evanston officials are reviving a resolution adopted in 2008 about immigration reform after the election of Donald Trump to see how the city can better protect its undocumented immigrants.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl called for members of City Council to reaffirm Evanston’s continued support for immigrants Monday night, saying Evanston should stick by the resolution passed eight years ago, which asked Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

The document called for the federal government to create a road to legalization, a temporary protective status for undocumented immigrants and an end to discriminatory practices.

Bobkiewicz said the resolution was heavily debated when it was adopted by the council in 2008. However, because the political climate has clearly changed, he said, City Council will work over the next several months to amend and add to the resolution.

“These issues are important to Evanston,” Bobkiewicz said. “They have been important to Evanston for a long time. Last night the mayor raised a flag to say these issues are back in the forefront and will be something we need to consider over the next several months.”

Bobkiewicz said although there are multiple definitions of “sanctuary city,” he believes Evanston does classify as one. Sanctuary cities typically have local laws prohibiting police and government workers from inquiring about a residents’ immigration status.

After Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) asked for clarification at Monday’s City Council meeting on whether The designation of Evanton as a sanctuary city would “benefit from full analysis and study,” city attorney Grant Farrar said.

Fiske said she would support Evanston becoming a sanctuary city if it is not already.

When City Council meets after Thanksgiving, they will be working on gathering information and discussing possible revisions to the resolution, Bobkiewicz said. Council members may also evaluate how Chicago has dealt with immigration over the past eight years as a sanctuary city and discuss how a Trump administration may change current local policies.

President-elect Donald Trump emphasized throughout his campaign his desire to build a wall on border between the United States and Mexico. He also called for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

Despite Trump’s statements, Evanston will continue to work for all people, no matter where they come from, Bobkiewicz said.

“Just because there is a change in the White House, that doesn’t change what kind of community Evanston is and what is important to Evanston,” Bobkiewicz said. “It may change some of our tactics. It may change some of our policies, but the city of Evanston values all people, and that won’t change just because there was a national election.”

Other than the election, the Syrian refugee crisis poses a different debate for City Council members looking to amend the 2008 resolution, Bobkiewicz said. During Tisdahl’s State of the City address in March she praised the Syrian community in Evanston.

“They are people with grace, courage, hope and humor,” Tisdahl said. “You can be proud to be from Evanston. Our residents welcome Syrians, hold rallies for Muslims … and our commitment to celebrate diversity brings us together as does a belief that we can create the community we want to have.”

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