Activists Aim To Keep Immigrant Families Together

Mar 16, 2017

Members of Illinois People's Action, churches, and immigrant communities came together for a press conference at Bloomington's Unitarian Universalist Church on Thursday.
Credit Staff / WGLT

Illinois People's Action and local faith leaders are calling for the Bloomington and Normal councils to keep families together. 

IPA held a news conference at Bloomington's Unitarian Universalist Church Thursday focusing on a welcoming ordinance for the Twin Cities. 

IPA Board Member Sonny Garcia said the ordinance could strengthen the relationship between the immigrant community and police.

"There's lots of dreamers in this community. There's lots of undocumented people that are working and living their lives in Bloomington-Normal," said Garcia. "We want to make sure that Bloomington-Normal is welcoming to them and keep them safe so they're ensured that the local police department's job is to protect them and not work with immigration officials."

Garcia said IPA isn't asking for local law enforcement to break any federal laws. He said they are just asking officers to refrain from asking residents about immigrant status.

Garcia also said a welcoming city ordinance would prohibit police from using their resources to help federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in any way.

"The basic impetus of this is people in the community are afraid. They're terrorized by the police. Every time they see the police, they want nothing to do with them. Children are crying at schools because they have no idea, if when they come home, if their parents are going to be there or not," said Garcia.

Garcia said parents are also worrying about if their children will come back home from school. 

According to the ordinance, local officials would not be allowed to participate in voluntary programs designed to make local police do the jobs of federal officials.

Garcia said similar ordinances have been adopted in Chicago, Oak Park, and Urbana, Illinois.