City of Berwyn Votes in Favor for Welcoming City Ordinance

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By: Ashmar Mandou

Mayor Robert Lovero continued his tradition of welcoming people from all backgrounds and spoke about the importance of sustaining an environment of stability, safety and diversity for all residents. On Tuesday night, Lovero held a Committee of the Whole Meeting at City of Berwyn City Hall, 6700 W. 26th St., with the help of Alderman Cesar Santoy and Rafael Avila and community organizers to expand on its diversity resolution. At last night’s Committee of the Whole Meeting, Mayor Lovero preceded over a packed Council Chambers due to a Welcoming City ordinance being brought forth by Aldermen Cesar Santoy and Rafael Avila to be voted on later in the evening at the City Council meeting. After a brief summary by Attorney James Vasselli highlighting the main points of the Welcoming City ordinance, Alderman Cesar Santoy introduced representatives from community immigration organizations that collaborated with him in writing the Welcoming City ordinance.

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Lovero thanked not only the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), West Suburban Action Project (PASO), Interfaith Leadership Project, Berwyn Immigration Working Group, and Ixchel Committee, but also the residents who had pushed for this ordinance. The audience was given the opportunity to speak. There were a variety of opinions regarding the Welcoming City ordinance – some were against it, but the majority was in favor of the Welcoming City ordinance. Mayor Lovero reminded all that the City of Berwyn’s police are here to protect all Berwyn residents and not to do the work of the Federal Government pertaining to immigration. As the vote was brought forth at the regular City Council meeting, all eight aldermen voted in favor of adopting the Welcoming City ordinance. “This Ordinance will provide an important layer of protection against deportation and family separation to the Berwyn immigrant community,” said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Executive Director of the West Suburban Action Project (PASO). “It is a step in the right direction. We are proud to see Berwyn join Oak Park in adopting a strong policy which takes a firm stance against collaboration and deportations. We hope more suburban communities, including Melrose Park, will take heed and follow suit. There is no time to wait,” Ruiz-Velasco added. The Welcoming Ordinance bars city officials from contacting, collaborating with, or turning someone to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) solely because of a person’s immigration status. It draws a firm dividing line between police and ICE by barring access to city databases, facilities, equipment, personnel, and other resources for purposes of implementing registries based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, or national or ethnic origin or to conduct civil immigration enforcement.

“As a Berwyn resident and a daughter of immigrants, I’m proud to see City Council adopt a strong policy that takes a stand against the criminalization of our community,” said Brenda Rodriguez, member of IXCHEL Committee. “We know that when communities have welcoming ordinances, you see lower crime rates, lower unemployment rates and higher incomes. Berwyn, a western suburb of Chicago, is comprised of 62% of Latinos and 26% of foreign-born residents overall. Berwyn will be the second suburban community to pass a strong and inclusive Welcoming Ordinance without deportation loopholes but the first to do so with a large Latino and immigrant community. This ordinance will not only make Berwyn safer, but also healthier for all residents.” Passage of the Ordinance is critical due to the President Trump’s threats to conduct sweeping deportation procedures and his expressed intent to deport 3-5 million individuals, a figure which would surpass President Obama’s record deportation figures.

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