The impulse is correct. In this moment of Trump and his anti-American views on immigration, it is up to each community to deliver protections to immigrants, documented or not. Last week Oak Park village officials and activists aligned twice.
First, they broadly supported the concept of a “Welcoming Village” ordinance which would expand Oak Park’s legendary human rights protections with fresh wording to enunciate respect and protection for the immigrant community. Specifically, it is intended to make plain currently informal policies on how Oak Park, especially its public safety staff, deal with possibly undocumented residents. Laws, of course, are enforced. But citizenship status is not information that is sought or recorded. Nor is it shared with federal government officials.
But local activists were concerned that the proposed ordinance, patterned after similar efforts in Chicago and Evanston, created loopholes which might allow for a detained person to be turned over to federal immigration officers. Advocates asked and the village board agreed to pursue more definitive language that would toughen the intent of the ordinance.
That revised ordinance will come back quickly to a village board which is clearly in tune with the worries of immigration activists.
In this moment, we all ought to be immigration activists. As President Donald Trump takes power and works to implement his xenophobic agenda, we are left as Americans to defend the openness and diversity that has built this nation. Oak Park, as a progressive community, must be on the front of efforts to make plain, to make law that honors and actively protects immigrants.