Morton Grove Welcoming Ordinance: Setting the Record Straight on Federal Funds

On Monday, April 24, Morton Grove will debate an AISC-drafted Welcoming Community Ordinance.  Although responses have been overwhelmingly positive, Village authorities have expressed caution and called for a town-hall style meeting to be held at the Civic Center, 6140 Dempster Street.

A small but vocal group of opponents has been raising the alarm that the proposed Welcoming Ordinance will run afoul of federal law and jeopardize funding.  Today AISC issued a statement (linked here: Welcoming Ordinance Letter 4 17 17 10 pm; full text below) refuting this argument.  Since these arguments are commonplace wherever there is resistance to similar local initiatives, the information presented may be useful.  Please contact AISC for more background or other resources- we’re here to help!

STATEMENT OF AMERICANS IN SOLIDARITY – CHICAGO ON MORTON GROVE WELCOMING COMMUNITY ORDINANCE AND FEDERAL FUNDS

In response to calls for a Welcoming Community Ordinance by Morton Grove residents, businesses, religious leaders, and community organizations (including Americans in Solidarity- Chicago, which is based in Morton Grove), a handful of opponents have argued that the Ordinance would threaten Morton Grove’s access to federal funds and increase residents’ tax burden. This argument is not supported by the contents of the proposed Welcoming Ordinance or relevant law. In reality, the proposed Ordinance complies with federal law, even under the stringent policies urged by the Trump Administration against so-called “sanctuary cities,” preserving Village access to federal funding (although the Village receives little if any direct funds). By contrast, the kind of aggressive voluntary assistance in federal immigration enforcement that the Ordinance seeks to prevent could very well lead to lawsuits and financial liability for the Village—costs that would be borne by residents. Therefore, the prudent approach is to embrace rather than reject the Welcoming Community Ordinance.

The Welcoming Community Ordinance Does Not Authorize Violations of Federal Law

Some opponents of the Ordinance appear to be basing their arguments on personal opinion of federal immigration policy and media reports, rather than the actual text of the proposed Welcoming Ordinance. While they argue that the Welcoming Ordinance will promote crime or violations of federal law, the Welcoming Ordinance specifically says that it does not apply to situations where there is a criminal warrant or even suspicion of a crime. If there is a warrant or suspected crime, regardless of what the crime is, then police can follow all of their ordinary procedures. In short, no one who is committing a crime, whether it is a local speeding violation or a federal crime relating to immigration, can benefit from the Welcoming Ordinance. The Welcoming Ordinance simply does not allow anyone to “get away” with a criminal offense.

Local Police Are Not Required to Act as Enforcers of Immigration Status Rules

The Welcoming Ordinance does say that Village police will not detain or investigate people solely based on potential civil immigration status violations, reinforcing the common- sense concept (which is also the long-standing policy of the Police Department) that local police are not designed, or required, to investigate or take action on such civil immigration issues.

This is not a legally controversial stance: even the federal government acknowledges that it can’t require local police to engage in such enforcement. As the United States Congressional Research Service wrote in a report less than one month ago: “local restrictions on police authority to arrest persons for federal immigration law violations do not appear to raise significant legal issues . . . nothing in the [Immigration and Naturalization Act] compels such participation.” Just last week the Trump Administration acknowledged in litigation against the City of San Francisco that the federal government cannot require local communities to hold individuals in detention for civil immigration status violations when they would otherwise be released. And it is settled law that the federal government cannot attach conditions to federal money that are unrelated to the purpose of the grant merely to coerce local governments into acting in ways the government could not otherwise require.

 

In short, the provisions of the Welcoming Ordinance that prohibit investigating, arresting, or detaining individuals based solely on potential immigration status violations are not only consistent with the existing policy and practice of the Morton Grove Police Department, but also consistent with federal law. They do not threaten federal funding.

The Welcoming Ordinance Complies with the Laws Emphasized In Trump Administration Policies Targeting So-Called “Sanctuary Cities”

In recent months, the Trump Administration has threatened a crackdown and withholding of federal funding from “sanctuary cities.” President Trump’s January 25, 2017 Executive Order and subsequent speeches by Attorney General Sessions indicate that such action would target municipalities that violate a specific statute, codified in the United States Code as 8 U.S.C. § 1373. In other words, federal funding could be withheld from towns that do not comply with “Section 1373.”

Fortunately, the Welcoming Ordinance complies with Section 1373. Section 1373 provides that states and cities cannot prohibit their employees from communicating with federal immigration authorities “regarding the immigration status . . . of any individual.” The Welcoming Ordinance specifically complies with this requirement by stating that Village employees (including police) are expressly allowed to communicate with federal authorities to determine the basis for any request to detain an individual. The only communication they are not allowed to have—and which is not required by federal law—is communication to coordinate with federal authorities regarding the timing of individuals’ release from Village custody (a scenario unlikely to play out in real life since the Village generally transfers its detainees to Cook County).

This is not a coincidence. The Welcoming Ordinance was drafted based on a thorough review of existing law, best practices, and policies that have been implemented successfully in other jurisdictions. This includes compliance with Section 1373 and all applicable federal laws specifically so that the Village does not come into conflict with federal authorities, and does not lose access to federal funds.

The Welcoming Ordinance Is a Financially Prudent Focusing of Local Police Activities

Far from being a threat to the Village’s finances, the Welcoming Ordinance is financially sound policy. In addition to complying with all federal laws, including those emphasized by the Trump Administration, if anything it will save money by focusing Morton Grove law enforcement activity on the core public safety mission for which it was designed. This is particularly true because the federal government generally does not reimburse state or local law enforcement for costs, including overtime, associated with voluntary enforcement of federal immigration policies—that cost is covered by individual towns and, in turn, local taxpayers.

Second, by preventing local police from becoming engaged in increasingly aggressive federal enforcement, it may actually prevent the Village from becoming a defendant in litigation challenging those enforcement activities. For example, a federal court in Chicago ruled in October 2016 that the vast majority of voluntary detainer requests issued by ICE’s Chicago Field Office—thousands of requests to local law enforcement to detain individuals based on supposed immigration status violations—were unlawful and in excess of the government’s authority. By preventing Morton Grove from becoming involved in such instances, the Welcoming Ordinance will keep the Village out of costly litigation in the future. This is particularly important given that the ACLU and numerous other organizations have vowed to aggressively pursue such litigation.

 

A Matter of Principle and Sound Policy

In conclusion, the argument that the Welcoming Ordinance violates federal law or threatens federal funding for the Village of Morton Grove is unfounded. The Welcoming Ordinance complies with all relevant legal authority. Yet some opponents have argued that, even though the Ordinance complies with the law, it should be set aside because federal authorities could still decide to act vindictively against Morton Grove.

Respectfully, this argument prompts the question of what kind of community we want to be. Do we want to be a community so timid in defense of its values that it declines to exercise its legal rights for fear that someone else will go outside the law to inflict illegal punishment? If so, what is the limit and where would we ever draw a line? How far from the requirements of the law and basic human decency would we retreat in hopes of avoiding the wrath of pure power unrestrained by law or justice?

All we can reasonably do is to live out our values as a community guided by our best understanding of the law. Having taken steps to ensure we comply with federal laws as written and interpreted by courts, we would head down a slippery and dangerous slope if we were to base our decisions on what governmental directives may be given in violation of those same laws. The proposed Welcoming Ordinance is a sound, measured attempt to enshrine our community’s values of equality, inclusiveness, and openness within the parameters of the law and it deserves all of our support.

April 17, 2017

Presentation: The Why, What and How of the Morton Grove Welcoming Ordinance

In April, the Village of Morton Grove will hold a town hall meeting devoted to the AISC-backed Welcoming Ordinance proposal (a copy of the draft Ordinance is located here (Morton Grove – Proposed Ordinance – 3 21 17 Draft)).

Below is a link to a short presentation that addresses why the Ordinance is needed; what it actually does; and how the Ordinance is largely consistent with existing Morton Grove Police Department policies.  It also demonstrates that the Welcoming Ordinance is not a “sanctuary law” that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, which could threaten federal funding.

Many people have views on the ordinance that don’t seem to be based on the actual ordinance we are proposing.  Please take a look and share with anyone who may be interested; the Morton Grove Welcoming Ordinance and the arguments for it incorporate learnings from other towns and may be helpful precedent for other groups/communities seeking to pursue Welcoming Ordinances in the future.MG Welcoming Community Ordinance Presentation – 4 3 17

AISC-Backed Morton Grove Welcoming Ordinance Letter Garners 130+ Signatures – Local Business, Religious Leaders, Elected Officials on Board

An Open Letter in support of the proposed Morton Grove Welcoming Ordinance, coordinated by AISC, Open Communities, and dedicated community members garnered over 130 (!!!) signatures from residents and community leaders including:

– Numerous church leaders and leaders of the Muslim Education Center;

– Businesses from small to medium to large, including LifeWay Foods, a publicly-traded company and one of MG’s largest employers;

– Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and State Sen. Daniel Biss

Thanks to all for your support, especially the dedicated community members who circulated the letter and gathered signatures. The letter has been delivered to all Village Trustees, the Village President, and all candidates for those positions.

Next, we address the Village Board again on Monday and raise the issue at the Candidate Forum!  AISC’s Jon Lahn will speak at a press conference prior to the Board meeting at Morton Grove Village Hall, 6101 Capulina Ave. at 6:30 PM on March 27.

Morton Grove Open Letter-final

AISC At The Forefront of Morton Grove “Welcoming” Law

AISC continues to push for a “Welcoming Ordinance” in Morton Grove to provide security and peace of mind of all residents.  AISC seeks legislation to guarantee that local officials will not proactively gather information on individuals’ immigration status, condition any service or benefits on immigration status, or voluntarily detain individuals based solely on ICE requests or administrative warrants.

AISC launched the Morton Grove initiative in late January by submitting a proposed ordinance to the Village Board of Trustees.  After consultation with community members, AISC’s Jon Lahn subsequently addressed the Village Board on the topic on Monday, March 13.  Working with Open Communities, local faith groups, businesses and other community members, AISC has drafted an Open Letter to the current Board of Trustees and Board candidates that will be circulated on Monday, March 20 featuring the signatures of numerous community leaders and residents.  The Open Letter urges the Village to take swift action to ensure the fair and non-discriminatory treatment of those who live and work in the Morton Grove community.

The Morton Grove initiative is part of AISC’s “Project Safety Belt,” which seeks to establish protections for individuals regardless of immigration status in communities throughout the Chicago area.

 

 

Maine Township United! a Tremendous Success!

AISC’s Maine Township United! event at Dee Park in Des Plaines on March 12 was a resounding success.  Upwards of 100 attendees of all backgrounds came together to celebrate Maine Township’s diversity and commit to an inclusive future.

Speakers from the world of politics included Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, State Senators Daniel Biss and Laura Murphy, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ald. Ameya Pawar, and the entire slate of Maine Township Democrats.  Attendees also heard from Ahmed Rehab, Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Chicago, student leaders from Maine West and Maine East high schools, and the Des Plaines Islamic Community Center.

AISC’s Jon Lahn capped the event off with a call for continued collaboration on diversity initiatives, noting that AISC is at work on a Welcoming Community ordinance in Morton Grove and is beginning to organize similar efforts in Niles, Des Plaines and Park Ridge.

Pictures from the event are featured below.

 

 

 

Maine Township United! Updates

In the short time since our last post on the Maine Township United! event scheduled for March 12 at 1 PM at Dee Park, Des Plaines, we have had a few exciting developments to share:

Confirmed Speakers! Representative Jan Schakowsky, State Senator Daniel Biss, and Chicago Alderman and Democratic Candidate for Illinois Governor Ameya Pawar are all confirmed to attend and say a few words.  Plus we are looking at a few additions still to be confirmed.  Each of these speakers is an outstanding leader and will share their thoughts on the current situation and the path forward.

Rain or Shine:  Thanks to the fine folks at the Golf Maine Park District we have secured an indoor option of using the Dee Park gymnasium if conditions do not allow us to proceed outdoors.

Information Available: In addition to demonstrating our solidarity and commitment to a diverse, inclusive Maine Township, we will have information available regarding future events and how to get involved in AISC’s various ongoing local projects in the area.MaineTownship - New