Ald. Napolitano says proposed sanctuary city referendum may not get City Council vote, as some members want to avoid the issue
by BRIAN NADIG
The fate of a proposed resolution that calls for a referendum to allow voters to decide whether Chicago should keep its sanctuary city status could be determined at a special City Council meeting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2.
Supporters of the resolution are hoping to get the proposal out of committee and eventually put to a vote by the full council, but one of its sponsors says Mayor Johnson’s administration and its top allies in the council are trying to prevent a vote from happening, through a series procedural maneuvers.
“It’s b.s. It’s the worse I’ve seen in .. my nine years in the council,” Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) said of what he described as “undemocratic” maneuvers. He added that the council is “overrun by socialists and progressives. They just work for the mayor.”
There is a limit of three referenda allowed on the March 19, 2024, ballot, and attempts are being made to make sure there would be no room for a sanctuary question on the ballot, Napolitano said.
One of those referenda would ask voters if the city shall create a flooding mitigation and response plan. “You don’t need a referendum for that,” Napolitano said. “Just do it.”
Two other other proposed referenda are on the need for more mental health clinics and a property transfer tax increase for million-dollar properties to better fund resources for the homeless.
A vote in council on the sanctuary resolution would mean going on the record as a supporter or opponent of the sanctuary city status, and at this time some alderpersons want to avoid that, said Napolitano, a sponsor of the resolution.
“They’re fearful of their (constituents) telling them they made the wrong decision,” and being held accountable, said Napolitano, who in the past has voted against resolutions affirming the city’s sanctuary status.
Napolitano added, “It was easy for (sanctuary supporters) when the border was 1,400 miles away, but … the border has been brought to their backyard,” and hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to house and feed the migrants, and constituents are now protesting plans for migrant camps in their wards.
Some alderpersons have conducted polling on the migrant issue, and the numbers do not show support for the current situation, Napolitano said. At Nov. 1 council meeting, a vote on a planned winter camp at 115th and Halsted streets for asylum seekers was delayed after many alderpersons voiced opposition.
Decisions regarding migrants are being made through executive orders and internally by the mayor’s office, leaving the alderpersons in the affected wards uninformed about plans until very late in the process, Napolitano said.
Napolitano said that if the city were to drop its sanctuary status, it would send a message that Chicago made a mistake and perhaps Texas would stop sending migrants to Chicago. He added that border security needs to be strengthened in order to slow down the flow of migrants coming into the country.
At least 11 alderpersons have signed on as sponsors of the sanctuary city referendum resolution, including Northwest Side aldermen Nicholas Sposato (38th) and James Gardiner (45th).
It’s not clear if there will be a quorum at the Nov. 2 special council meeting, Napolitano said, adding that the first step will be to get a committee hearing on the proposal scheduled and then possibly a vote by the full council before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, whether the sanctuary referendum makes the ballot or not, it does not change the current situation, and the hundreds of new arrivals sleeping in police station lobbies or in tents outside of police stations or at O’Hare Airport. (Pictured is the 16th/Jefferson Park Police Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave.) Below is an Oct. 25 story on the migrant issue:
In recent days as many as 142 migrants have been living at the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave., sleeping in the lobby, outside in tents or in a CTA bus parked on some days from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. in front of the station.
In recent weeks portable washrooms have been placed outside the station, and scenes of children playing in front of the station or in the lobby have become common.
In addition, school buses are being used to transport migrants to the Jefferson Memorial Park pool, 5435 W. Higgins Ave., in order to use showers in the locker rooms.
16th District commander Heather Daniel that the district’s officers are dealing with the situation as best as they can. “I’ve been impressed with the officers’ compassion,” she said at the Oct. 19 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee. “They’re proving to be the people I know they are.”
At times people seeking to file a police report can be seen waiting in a line outdoors due to the crowded conditions of the lobby, where at times it is filled with people sleeping on the floor.
Also in the district, hundreds of migrants have been living at O’Hare Airport.
Many of the migrants are being bused or flown to Chicago from Texas. Chicago has received about 20,000 new arrivals in the past 14 months.
The city is planning to build tent camps for the migrants, but no locations have been announced for the Far Northwest Side. North Park Village at 5801 N. Pulaski Roadand the former military at 3034 W. Foster Ave. have been used as shelters.