Oak Park approves sanctuary city ordinance

Immigration advocates say measure is among the strongest in the nation

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees thumbed its nose at President Donald Trump and unanimously joined the ranks of America's sanctuary cities, approving an ordinance that immigration advocates said was among the strongest in the nation.

Immigration advocates packed village hall Monday night and lined up at the podium to state their support for the so-called Welcoming Village ordinance.

"The ordinance you will be voting on tonight is the strongest, most progressive and inclusive ordinance in the country," said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, executive director of PASO West Suburban Action Project, an immigrants' rights nonprofit organization. Ruiz-Velasco spearheaded the sanctuary city initiative in Oak Park.

She said the move shows Oak Park is "staying true to its strong historical values of equality, diversity and justice."

"You send a strong message that there is no place in Oak Park for anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ policies," Ruiz-Velasco said.

The ordinance was strengthened from a previous version presented to the board in late January that advocates argued included a loophole that would allow local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials under certain circumstances.

That language was removed in the new ordinance, which was almost universally supported by the advocates at the meeting.

The ordinance passed Monday prevents village employees from assisting "in the investigation of the citizenship or immigration status of any person unless such inquiry or investigation is required by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction."

The village also will not accept requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on federal immigration enforcement operations. Village employees who receive a request for support or information from ICE or other federal officials "shall report the request to his or her supervisor, who shall decline the request and document the declination in an interoffice memorandum to the agency director through the chain of command."

Residents, immigration advocates and elected officials took turns speaking in favor of the ordinance Monday – the packed meeting followed a rally in Scoville Park on the issue over the weekend that drew hundreds of supporters.

Although the room was largely in favor of the measure, one man argued that failure to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration would make Oak Park less safe. Larry Morris asked trustees to amend the ordinance and said the proposal should be sent to a public referendum, so Oak Park voters could decide on the issue.

"America becomes better when we work with our federal government," Morris said, adding later that passage of the ordinance was "nothing more than mob legislation in response to street mob actions."

Trustee Bob Tucker rebutted the comment, saying the ordinance and the process "is actually American democracy at its best."

"We're not going to waste vital police resources on misguided federal actions," Tucker said.

Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, who is Palestinian and grew up in a Muslim household in the Gaza Strip, had, perhaps, the strongest language for the Trump administration.

Trump's policies of exclusion and rhetoric of hate run counter to American values, Abu-Taleb said.

"I am outraged by his message and his divisive views," Abu-Taleb said. "He wishes us to fear one another and he seeks to make us focus on our differences and not our similarities. America should not be a place where a child fears being separated from her parents for deportation."

Abu-Taleb called out Trump, telling the commander-in-chief, "Mr. President, America is not one of your enterprises. America does not belong to you alone and your associates. America belongs to all of us." 

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com


Reader Comments

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Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 8:44 AM

My God, Brian, can you read? I'm seriously, man. I don't mind being corrected on something, but how about correcting me on something I actually wrote, not on your misreading of it.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 8:29 AM

I see from the above (the text of the ordinance itself) that only "criminal warrants" will be honored.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 8:23 AM

Brian that is sort of what Bill was saying. And it therefore follows - if I understand the argument - that an arrest warrant (or any warrant for that matter) can NOT be ignored by Oak Park police, even though we are a sanctuary village. That is my conclusion if I understand you and Bill correctly.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 12:50 AM

Bill, I think an arrest warrant must be executed by a law enforcement officer. The officer has no discretion and in doing so the action is not a police courtesy.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 9:07 PM

Well I do think the "sanctuary city" is more symbolic - sort of like our "nuclear free zone." But I am not sure. It clearly is a form of "nullification" which does have serious implications nationally. And yes, I am still confused.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 3:04 PM

Brian- I don't get your argument, because that's what I wrote; that a WARRANT is a legal obligation. And that whether or not to assist or cooperate is matter of local law enforcement choice and discretion.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 12:58 PM

The Feds do make single arrests if possible. The Feds investigate. Bob, of Bobs Brake Shop, gets in trouble with the IRS. He tells the IRS agent I will work with ICE to get an IRS break. Bob, then turns in Bill, of Bills Landscaping, because Bob knows Bill is hiring Illegal aliens. IRS and ICE watch Bill, swoop in and pick up three illegal aliens and The IRS looks at his books. Bill knows Julia ,of Julias Housekeeping, hire illegal aliens. Bill turns in Julia and so on and so on. This sanctuary city status makes no difference what so ever. If the FEDS want you, they will get you. Just ask organized crime. And you are paying the FEDS with your tax money to do this, confiscate and sell property and become stronger .History says that Union Troops cornered John Wilkes Booth and shot him. Booth asked his captors to raise his hands, and Wilkes said "Useless, Useless" This sanctuary city status is useless.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 12:44 PM

I also am not a lawyer.@ Bill, Bruce and Ray: First Bill. I highly doubt that the execution of an arrest warrant is a manner of professional courtesy, I think it is a matter of law and duty..We had an Oak Park officer who was terminated because he did not execute an arrest warrant. I am of the opinion that a warrant signed by a judge can only be a criminal offense. Being illegally in the country maybe a civil offense, failure to comply with a deportation order is a criminal offense, hence the handcuffs and confinement. What would the civil penalty be to an officer who did not arrest and the person named when on to injure someone else? More on that. The ordinance contains language that prohibits the communication between LEO in regards to citizenship. Scenaro: We have an Oak Park officer who constantly makes quality DUI arrests. His father was killed by an illegal who was DUI. That officer reads all arrest reports and notices an arrest made another officer of a possible illegal alien. Officer makes a copy a mails to ICE for further investigation. The upper brain bust of the OPPD installs a copying machine counter. The officer then uses scrap paper and pen. The upper brain bust rules officers can not carry pens and scrap paper.Impossible to stop.Further, any arrest made where finger printing is necessary, a red FBI finger print card must be completed. every person going before a judge for bond must have a finger print check.The States Attorney will not allow a person to go before a judge without a finger print back round check.The FBI records clerks check the information on the fingerprint card. If a criminal illegal alien gives a false SSN or no SSN, the records clerk will notify their boss, and boss will notify ICE.Because the FBI records clerk wants a pay raise, and turning in that type of information gets a pay raise. Do the residents of OP actual think that ICE is in need of OPPD input?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 9:05 AM

I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you that if a WARRANT comes up on a person, with wording like "Shall" or "Must," law enforcement personnel are obligated to arrest and contact the agency that issued the warrant. Cooperation in an outside agency's investigation or anything outside a warrant mandating arrest is basically a professional courtesy done at the discretion of the local LE agency. From my past experience, local police departments get requests for assistance from outside agencies on a regular basis, including federal agencies. That assistance and cooperation, is usually provided, but not legally required. Someone with a bit more specific expertise can correct me if I'm wrong.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: February 15th, 2017 10:13 PM

I just read where Pete's is closing there stores in mainly Hispanic areas in honor of a Day Without Immigrants. As a sanctuary city, I feel strongly that they should also close their Oak Park store for a day. And if not, maybe people should just not shop there on Thurs., Feb. 16 to show solidarity with this cause.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 10th, 2017 3:56 PM

Ray, you are correct. "Sanctuary City" has no precise legal meaning. In Arizona v United Sates, the SCOTUS did uphold as Constitutional that section of the law that merely mandated communication between Arizona law enforcement officials and ICE during otherwise lawful arrests. But as to your question. I don't know the answer. I suspect, we'd (Oak Park) ignore a deportation order but act on a criminal complaint. That depends upon the specific language in the ordinance. Does anyone know the answer?

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 10th, 2017 7:23 AM

Here is my understanding of a "Sanctuary City" "The cities usually forbid their police or municipal employees to inquire about a person's immigration status or share such information with immigration enforcement. The designation has no precise legal meaning" If the police do a traffic stop and run the license and a federal deportation order or warrant comes up, do we just ignore it? I hope not!

Josh Vanderberg  

Posted: February 9th, 2017 10:42 PM

I've no idea what removing people who are not here legally has to do with hate or fear. We have laws that determine who can, and cannot immigrate, because we can't take everyone who wants to come here. I am all for legal immigration, at levels we can all agree upon. If you want there to be higher levels of legal immigration, lobby for higher immigration targets in our laws, don't ignore the law.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 9th, 2017 9:00 PM

@ Bruce - I agree with what you are saying. I do not agree that a local ordinance can negate federal law. That seems so basic that we should not be wasting our time with it. The ordinance is silly since there will probably never be an incidence where ICE will ask Oak Park to turn over anyone for any reason. We never have prisoners in custody for long enough for that to happen. There is an awful lot of chaff amongst the grain and the advocates of sanctuary cannot tell the difference, or are using it to hide motive.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 9th, 2017 8:01 PM

Ray perhaps the problem is that when you (or I make a statement such as yours or even believe it) WE would be the ones breaking federal law. The law of the land is clear: under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment YOU and ME and our Village is obligated to provide free public education - our tax money - to the children of undocumented immigrants. Who says? The SCOTUS says! That Ray, is the law of the land. Ironic isn't it? So perhaps the ultimate answer is for Congress (remember them) to come up with a comprehensive and enforcible immigration policy that doesn't seem to create heart break and legal inconsistencies that drive all of us crazy. And Ray - just if your wondering - I personally do believe that a country - any country - is entitled to enforce and control its borders.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 9th, 2017 11:44 AM

I do not want one cent of my tax money used, by the village, to facilitate our community to break federal law! I also worry that foolish best intentions could put needed federal grants at risk. Feeling good is one thing - forfeiting money is entirely another.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 7:08 PM

Dean: I agree with much of what you say. But the facts are that in Illinois as well as the rest of the country, the children of undocumented immigrants are entitled to free public education ( K to 12) under the 14th Amendment. This is the Supreme law of the land established by the US Supreme Court in Plyler v Doe. So yes this ordinance may have many unanticipated implications, particularly for you as a landlord as well.

Dean Rogers from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 5:45 PM

So long as this ordinance applies to village agencies and employees only,I will disagree with it,but only mildly object. Should school district's adopt such rules,allowing illegals to cost me money to pay for their education, strong objections will be heard.And should the Village attempt to force this ideology on private citizens,not allowing me to inquire about the legal status of a potential renter of property I own,for instance,or someone I may be considering to fix my roof or work on my car,then I dare them to try and force me to follow this ordinance.Should I deny a lease to someone who cannot prove they are here legally,I don't believe there is a single Oak Park official that would even attempt to charge me with any violation. We investigate non-residents before we let them enroll in our schools.To not do the same for illegal aliens is favoring one group over another.The only one promoting divisiveness with inflammatory rhetoric is Village President Abu-Taleb, in trying to force his personal agenda on all citizens.He has the right to punish public employees that refuse to follow this policy,but various whistleblower laws,and support from locals,would prevent any such punishment from being carried out.I agree with Ray that this is largely symbolic since most of those arrested are transferred to County jail,and no order to detain would ever reach the local department.That makes this ordinance largely symbolic,and a chance for village officials to simultaneously be self-congratulatory,and pacify the portion of voters that revere such feel-good ordinances. Any attempt to impose this as public policy on citizens,as opposed to village employees, will be strongly resisted, There are no constitutional rights for such people,nor any provision for equal treatment under the law.So,while you may refuse to cooperate with federal agencies,you are not allowed to spend village funds or resources for programs for these people.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 12:24 PM

It seems to me that for as long as I have lived in Oak Park (51 years) bad people who are caught get taken to OP police Dept, booked, fingerprinted and hustled to Cook County Jail. When in this process does ICE get involved? Seems to me that the Cook County folks would be guilty of stiffing the feds - not us."Sanctuary" refers to felons - not immigrants legal or illegal, so feeling good about welcoming displaced people is totally irrelevant to this ordinance. Just another thing we do to feel superior to our unwashed neighbors.

Paul Abella from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 11:37 AM

Good. What the naysayers forget is that sanctuary city ordinances are genuinely helpful. If someone sees a crime, or if someone is being victimized, I WANT them to feel safe to call the police. If someone gets pulled over for a simple traffic violation, I DON'T want them to try to evade the police because they're fearful of being shipped back off to (insert country here). If someone commits a crime, I have no doubt that they'll be dealt with correctly. But if someone is trying to make a buck and send their kids to good schools and live in a pretty fantastic town, I can't find fault with that. Let me be another to echo the sentiment that I am proud to live in Oak Park.

Paul Clark  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 11:10 AM

In the discussions leading up to approval of the ordinance (which I support) did anyone at the Village provide specifics as to how much in federal funding might be at risk if the president decided to enforce his EO?

Earl Hickey  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 10:53 AM

I hope everyone who is cheering for this ordinance is aware the President's Executive Order 13768 , Section 9 which has the potential to cut off Federal grants to Sanctuary Entities. "Sec. 9. Sanctuary Jurisdictions. It is the policy of the executive branch to ensure, to the fullest extent of the law, that a State, or a political subdivision of a State, shall comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373. (a) In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law. (b) To better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the Secretary shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens. (c) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is directed to obtain and provide relevant and responsive information on all Federal grant money that currently is received by any sanctuary jurisdiction.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 8:57 AM

I agree with Jenna and I really question Andrew Pat Jannison O'Malley's apparent assumption that our local police are devoting significant energy and resources towards whatever "illegals" happen to live, work or pass within our village's borders. I'm pretty neutral on this myself - glad for those who are so thrilled and think this is going to really make any beneficial difference to anyone (maybe it will, but I'm not so certain of that) and I also agree with those who are concerned of possible unintended consequences. But woo-hoo, let's pat ourselves on our backs and cheer for how great Oak Park is. We're the best! (tongue firmly in cheek - we're OK, but there's room for improvement)

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 8:14 AM

One must wonder how many illegal immigrants actually reside in Oak Park. It's been my experience that the undocumented worker can not frequently afford the rarified air of the virtue signaling class.

Andrew Pat Jannison O'Malley  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 7:32 AM

Very pleased by this outcome. It will allow our law enforcement to focus its resources and energy on the people who have actually committed damaging crimes against our residents, the vast majority of whom are American men, rather than be sidetracked by deportation witch hunts by the federal government.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: February 8th, 2017 6:53 AM

Cant wait to see what happens if one of the illegal "citizens" commits a serious crime, like murder. Typical for the Liberal capitol of the state. Oak Park has enough problems, thanks for adding more.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 10:00 PM

It is easy to stand by your convictions when it doesn't cost you anything. Will we still be a sanctuary city when all federal funding is withdrawn? Time will tell.

Daniel Ambrose from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 9:42 PM

I hold no opinions to the action of the city but I am concern that the federal grants that support education, homelessness, TIGER, police departments, special needs, health, unemployment programs and other programs will be pulled. Was that topic discussed during this meeting? Can the fed gov't pull funding to these programs/groups? How far can they or will they go?

Rebeccah Donovan Willard from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 9:32 PM

Great job Oak Park! Proud to live here. This is living our values at its finest. We said NO to hate and fear. Not mentioned in this article is that the Oak Park chief of police also spoke at the meeting and supports this ordinance. Our community will be safer and our immigrant neighbors will not have to live in fear.

Emily Reyes from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 9:05 PM

My parents moved to Oak Park in 1974 because they wanted to raise their children in a place that valued diversity and inclusion. I am proud to be raising my two Mexican-American children in a village that continues to demonstrate those ideals. Way to go Oak Park Village Board. Keep pushing for what's right, your constituents are behind you!

Dina Ross from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 7:45 PM

Very glad that OP passed this. Proud of my village.

Shana Wills from Oak Park   

Posted: February 7th, 2017 6:56 PM

I am proud to live in a community that bravely upholds the values and rights outlined in our constitution. We have had far too many good people sacrifice their safety and dignity for moral progress to let hateful and divisive men unhinge it.

Maria Storm  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 6:53 PM

Makes me proud that Oak Park is now sanctuary city.

Diane Zimmer Fascione from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 6:42 PM

This is a wonderful thing that I am so proud of our Village for doing! This is America!

Karrie Talbert  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 6:36 PM

Thank you Oak Park for passing this welcoming ordinance. I am grateful to raise my children in a community that values immigrants and recognizes that we are all safer when immigrants can trust the police and report crimes without fear of being turned over to immigration officials.

Ruth Lopez-McCarthy from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:55 PM

Incredibly proud to be a first generation american living in a community that protects all immigrants, like my parents family members and friends! So proud to be an Oak Park resident today.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:51 PM

No one is objecting to immigrants entering our country. When you invite people into your home they are called guests. What do the police call someone who breaks into your home? Maybe we should modify our local odinances. Why not keep the library open all the time. Why lock people out? Seems rather cruel to me. Act locally, think globally. Not the other way around.

Krissy Bee from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:32 PM

Honestly, so many of these comments demonstrate such a basic lack of understanding regarding our immigrant population and what they bring to our community as well as the myriad of perfectly reasonable reasons why someone may be undocumented. They also fail to address the current administration who is looking to "ban Muslims, but legally". This action is being taken, sensibly and patriotically, in the face of federal actions that do not seem to bother itself with trivialities like the legal status of its citizenry. Once upon a the German government asked for lists of Jews. This ordinance states that the days of providing "lists of undesirables" will not return. I applaud the board for its decision and I am proud to live in Oak Park.

Stephanie Bailey from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:28 PM

Thank you to the Village Board and everyone who worked hard to make this happen. After hearing many speakers on this topic at the last two board meetings and several other events, I am absolutely convinced this ordinance is necessary to protect our neighbors and will make our home safer for everyone. I am proud to live in this community that values diversity and inclusivity, and who will stand up for what is right. Oak Park will be on the right side of history.

Alice Cottingham from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:13 PM

I'd also note that it's the height of hypocrisy to build an economy on cheap labor while not making documented immigration possible.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:12 PM

I feel outrage regarding the (in)action of the State's Attorney for the battery case outside the OP library, but I honestly have no idea of what this "sanctuary" ordinance means? Does this mean that someone pulled over for a traffic ticket has no fear of ICE (did they ever?) or, well, what? What does OP police ever do that would interest ICE? Just like with the incident outside the OP library - that goes outside of OP to the State's Attorney. What occurs then? Is this ordinance no different than our nuclear ban?

Alice Cottingham from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:11 PM

Proud to be an OP resident. We are far from perfect, but this ordinance speaks volumes about our aspirations and commitment.

Dot Lambshead Roche from Oak Park   

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:08 PM

Well done Oak Park! Proud to live here.

Barbara Joan  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:08 PM

How disrespectful to all persons who have applied to become legal residents and citizens patiently waiting for entry.How foolhearty to not protect your country from potentially dangerous intruders.And who is paying for all of this?

Natalie Stein  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 4:00 PM

Aren't we special? You aren't thumbing your nose at Trump but, at the laws of this country and be certain to march with your children and set this fine example for them. I still do not understand what part of illegal people do not understand. We have had acts of terrorism on our soil and what objection do you have to vetting people coming in ? Do these people marching lock their doors or just assume everyone is no threat to them or anyone else ? It would serve Oak Park right if, this socially and politically correct village loses any federal funds it receives as it's no concern to our Mayor as additional taxes can be passed on to us to pay for the arrogance of the village .

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 2:44 PM

Sanctuary city? Not respecting a countries borders? All this from a city that has build a wall the length of its eastern border. Hypocrites!

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 2:39 PM

This is a good start, but not enough. At least six of the seven countries on Trump's list do not allow a jew with an Israeli passport to enter their country. Where is the outrage? How about their treatment of women? How do these countries treat the LGBT community? We don't know because they have all been executed or are underground. How about Syria hanging 13,000 people? Where is the outrage there? Let's get real - These are not nice countries.

Nick Arestopoulos  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 2:33 PM


Gary Sullivan  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 12:13 PM

Are You People Nuts! Not My Friends Of Course Just Those Who Believe That "Give Me Your Poor, Your Tired" Means The Same As It Was First Written? OK But That Indicates You Want It The Way It Were In Times Past. Oops, Then That May Label You As A Conservative Which Is Not In Oak Park's Dictionary For Accepted Persons. (Upper Case Done Purposely So Get Over It)

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