The Crusader Newspaper Group

8 Black aldermen rejected Chicago’s sanctuary city referendum

Left to right: Ald. Pat Dowell, Ald. William Hall and Ald. Jeanette Taylor

Eight Black aldermen helped 23 City Council members reject a proposal that would have allowed a referendum for voters to decide on whether Chicago should remain a sanctuary city.

The decision ended months of heated debate at City Hall, as the city and Chicago residents grapple with the increasing migrant population, which stands at nearly 26,000.

The proposal, sponsored by Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) and Raymond Lopez (15th), failed at a special City Council meeting on December 14.

Voting against the proposal were Aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd), Lamont Robinson (4th), Desmon Yancy (5th), William Hall (6th), Michelle Harris (8th), Jeanette Taylor (20th), Walter Burnett (27th) and Jason Ervin (28th).

Aldermen Stephanie Coleman (16th) and Emma Mitts (34th) were absent and did not vote.

Alderman Ronnie Mosley (21st), who was heavily criticized last month for approving the purchase of land in his ward for a winterized migrant shelter that was eventually put on hold, surprisingly voted in favor of the referendum. But there are concerns that Mosley voted for the failed referendum to restore his image among voters in his ward.

The proposed referendum would have succeeded, had the eight Black aldermen who voted against it, supported it.

The rejected proposed referendum was the latest effort by Beale and Lopez to get the issue on the ballot as residents question whether the city should continue welcoming migrants amid concerns that the surging population is too much for Chicago to handle. Chicago has spent at least $260 million on migrants.

Implemented under Mayor Harold Washington, sanctuary city status prohibits city officials and law enforcement agencies from helping federal agents arrest and deport undocumented people.

During one attempt to advance the ballot question, Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) last month was accused of physically blocking West Side Alderman Emma Mitts (37th) from entering Council chambers to prevent a quorum of alderpeople from attending.

Ramirez-Rosa had also been accused by several alderpeople of using his position as chair of the Council’s zoning committee to threaten future developments in their ward if they attended the meeting, allegations he strongly refuted. After he was accused of trying to block Mitts’ entry, Ramirez-Rosa resigned as Mayor Brandon Johnson’s floor leader.

After the City Council rejected the proposal at last week’s special meeting, Alderman Beale blasted Johnson and the 31 aldermen who blocked the proposal. He said Chicagoans deserve a chance to voice their opinion about sanctuary city status.

“All this question is asking is to let the people have a say in what’s going on,” he said.

“What are you scared of? The truth? Are we afraid that the people are going to tell us that we are spending money frivolously in this body? Are we afraid that the people are going to tell us that we are heading in the right direction?”

Lopez said, “People have finally had their vote cast in this chamber on whether or not they support giving people a voice. Ultimately, that is what we wanted to have, on record, how people have chosen, whether to vote for or against giving the voters of Chicago a say on the sanctuary city.”

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