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Prepared remarks for the Chicago City Council regarding the Welcoming City Ordinance

Good morning. I want to start with a quote from the November 2 special council meeting.

“Sanctuary city or welcoming ordinance says nothing about we have to provide services and goods. Sanctuary City all it says is the city of Chicago will not cooperate or organize with the federal government detain for people to be deported.” [sic]

This statement was made by one of the council members who is trying to repeal our Welcoming City Ordinance and undermine Chicago’s status as a ”sanctuary city.” Our city is facing challenges with the migrants who are being sent here by cynical border-state governors and others. Yet here we are instead targeting the Welcoming City Ordinance, which in the alderman’s own words has nothing to do with these challenges.

The Welcoming City Ordinance and its precursor executive orders have enabled thousands of Chicago residents and their families to live in this city, raise their families, go to school, start businesses, make lives for themselves, and create positive relationships with city government.  Immigrant advocates and allies worked too hard over several decades and through six mayoral administrations to win and strengthen these protections. Again, the ordinance has NOTHING to do with whether and how the city provides shelter and care for the migrants being sent to Chicago. And repealing the ordinance will do NOTHING to stop the buses from coming or end the needs that the migrants present.

At best these moves to undermine the Welcoming City Ordinance are the result of confusion and misdirection.  At worst they are cynical ploys that are feeding on fear and resentment, turning neighbors and communities against each other and dividing our city. They play into the hands of Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, and everyone else who would like nothing more than to undo the progress this city has made and can make if we focus. All with absolutely no assurance that the buses will stop if we throw all of these hard-won gains away.  If we fall into their trap, shame on us!

Our city is better than that.  Instead of being distracted by questions that have nothing to do with the real problems this city faces, we need to come together to address not just the immediate challenges of the migrants, but also our long, sad history of inequality and disinvestment in our communities.  No matter when or how someone arrived in this city, everyone belongs here, and everyone should feel welcome and be treated with dignity and respect.  And anybody who needs help should be able to get help, no matter where they live or when they got here.  So let’s stop getting distracted by those who want to divide us and get on with the real work we need to do as a city.

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