After Stalling in Bloomington, Welcoming City Ordinance on Normal's Agenda Monday

City Council Immigration
Welcoming City Ordinance Supporters at Bloomington City Council Meeting (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

Welcoming City Ordinance Supporters at Bloomington City Council Meeting (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

The Normal Town Council will consider its own welcoming city ordinance Monday, months after a similar proposal stalled in Bloomington.

The proposed ordinance adds a “check and balance” to the Normal Police Department’s existing community policing standards, requiring officers to obtain approval from Normal Chief of Police Rick Bleichner or a designee before contacting Immigrations and Customs (ICE) officials.

The Town already complies with 2017 Illinois Trust Act and other state and federal guidelines for interactions between police and ICE, according to a staff report.

Jenn Carrillo, Mission Impact Director at YWCA McLean County, said the proposed ordinance helps ensure the department is acting in the best interests of the entire community.

“It’s not going to be as easy for a police officer to pick up the phone and call ICE to find out information that they may be able to access in other ways, and that doesn’t endanger the trust between police and undocumented community members.”

She and several other groups represented in the Keep Families Together Campaign approached Town staff in February to begin crafting the proposal. The group plans to hold a rally at Uptown Circle before Monday’s Town Council meeting, according to the campaign Facebook page.

“In supporting this proposal we are placing a lot of trust in the NPD, and to some degree, we feel good about that because they have demonstrated that they can be a trustworthy partner,” Carrillo said.

The campaign filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request late last year examining communications between local police departments and ICE. Campaign members say the request uncovered emails between Bloomington police and ICE showing a close working relationship between the two.

“We didn’t find such a thing in Normal, so it’s a lot easier for us to establish that relationship of trust,” said Carrillo. She said advocates were also reassured by Chief Bleichner’s willingness to join the discussion.

Carrillo said the discussion between campaign members and City of Bloomington leaders fell silent in February when a group of aldermen petitioned Interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen to remove a proposed welcoming city ordinance from the council agenda.

So far the campaign’s calls for City leaders to return to the negotiating table, including demonstrations at City Hall, have gone unanswered, she said.

But Bloomington won’t be off the hook if Normal passes its proposed ordinance.

“Something absolutely needs to be done in Bloomington, but if the political will isn’t there to do something that’s going to protect these marginalized communities, then we as advocates, there’s only so much we can do,” said Carrillo.

Carrillo announced in April she plans to run for public office in Bloomington. Carrillo seeks the spot currently occupied by Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt, one of five aldermen who sought to table the City’s proposed welcoming city ordinance in February.