Chicago alderpersons meeting on city's sanctuary status gets heated, delayed for now

The proposal for Chicago to remain a sanctuary city is off to a rocky start, and it remains unclear if voters will have a say in the matter.

After several delays, the City Council held a meeting Thursday on whether to put the city's sanctuary status on the ballot as a referendum. The first problem was that they didn't have 26 alderpersons to start the meeting, as some of them were in another meeting.

Once the meeting finally convened, residents gave public comment and some were not happy.

"What's the point of being an alderperson if you're not going to be for the community? That makes no sense. It's starting to become a race war," said one resident.

There were fireworks over the issue because there weren't enough alderman to make decisions in person.

"I move Brendan Reilly be named by this body to preside over this special meeting," said Ald. Ray Lopez.

The chair responded, "Alderman Lopez this violates Rule 2 of the orders. We've offered to either recess or adjourn, and without an option to recess, we're going to adjourn."

After that, the microphones were cut off and the lights in the room were turned off.

As 20,000 migrants seek asylum in Chicago, the City Council is set to revisit the issue and will have to decide if the referendum is approved. If the referendum is approved, Chicagoans would see this question on the ballot for the presidential primary election on March 19, 2024: "Should the city of Chicago continue to keep its designation as a sanctuary city? Yes or no."

At least 11 alderpersons have already sponsored adding the sanctuary city proposition to the ballot.

In 1985, Mayor Harold Washington issued an executive order designating Chicago as a sanctuary city. In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council passed the Welcoming City ordinance.

According to Chicago's website, "Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance means that the city will not ask about your immigration status, disclose that information to authorities, or, most importantly, deny you city services based on your immigration status."

Mayor Brandon Johnson was in Washington D.C. Thursday asking the Biden Administration for more financial assistance for the influx of migrants.

Additionally, the City Council planned to vote on whether to add a referendum about increasing public mental health clinics and if Chicago should create flooding mitigation and response plan.