Evanston could become immigration sanctuary

January 11, 2008 5:03:47 PM PST
North suburban Evanston could become the first sanctuary city in the Chicago area.The city council will review a measure that would bar city employees and police from asking people about their immigration status.

The city of Evanston boasts of a community of diverse ethnicities, religions and incomes. A proposed ordinance would insure immigrants get the same treatment and any other resident.

"We want to be on record as being in favor of immigrants, and we want people to know that. We want people to know that we're a compassionate community," said Ald. Eb Moran, Evanston 6th Ward.

Moran sits on Evanston's human service committee, which approved the resolution this week. The resolution would allow city services for citizens regardless of immigration status.

"There's a direction whereby the police department would be told that they should not conduct investigations limited strictly to a person's immigration status," said Moran.

The resolution follows the lead of Cook County and the city of Chicago and contrasts with other communities. Carpentersville officials were met with protests with several proposed controversial immigration ordinances. Waukegan officials announced plans to train its officers to question suspects on immigration status - despite protests.

Illinois' Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights supports Evanston's resolution and says laws that target immigrants could end up with more problems, like difficulties in investigating crime.

"They're victims of violence and don't want to press charges because they're afraid of the repercussions for themselves and for other members of their families," said Diego Bonesatti, ICIRR

Some Evanston residents in support of the resolution say they want Evanston to be a community of inclusion, not exclusion.

"Immigrants for decades have been an important part of Evanston. They've made great contributions, from not just Latin America but eastern European immigrants. This is a community of immigrants. And we would like to keep it that way," said Dr. Cristina Traina.