The Chicago City Council on Thursday wiped out any hopes that a non-binding referendum on Chicago’s sanctuary city status would go before voters in the spring.
“Mr. Chairman, let me just say that I think you all had something up your sleeve,” Alderman Anthony Beale said of the maneuvers that defeated his effort to put the question on the ballot that would have read: “Should the City of Chicago limit its designation as a Sanctuary City by placing spending limits on its public funding?”
More than 25,700 illegal immigrants have arrived in Chicago since August 2022.
Through the end of November, city government has paid out $129.5 million toward its response. Favorite Healthcare Staffing, which hires workers for the shelters that house illegal immigrants, has received $86.6 million of that amount. The Tribune reported that city officials estimate when all the bills come in, the cost to date could be as high as $360 million.
Beale was livid at the rejection of the proposed referendum.
“It is a shame that you all are scared. What are you scared of? To let the people have a voice? What are you scared of — the truth? Are we afraid that the people are going to tell us that we are spending money frivolously? … Are we afraid that the people are going to tell us that we are headed in the wrong direction?” he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I’m all for taking care of people. I am sympathetic as well. However, I’m more sympathetic for the people in my community who have been paying taxes their entire life, can’t get a furnace, can’t get a roof, can’t get a hot water heater, can’t get a back porch. And my seniors are still starving for resources,” he said.
He noted that the city has made mistakes, such as spending nearly $1 million on a site for illegal immigrants the state later declared unsafe.
“I hope you all sleep good tonight knowing that you all continued to turn your backs on the people who are paying taxes in this city,” Beale said.
Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, defended the majority and said, “this ordinance has nothing to do with whether or how the city provides shelter and care for the migrants being sent to Chicago,” according to CBS News.
“Repealing the ordinance will do nothing to stop the buses from coming, or end the need that the migrants present. At best, these moves to undermine the Welcoming City Ordinance are the result of confusion and misdirection. At worst, they are cynical ploys that are feeding on fear and resentment, turning neighbors and communities against each other, and dividing our city,” Tsao added.
Alderman Andre Vasquez said the referendum was a ploy to distract voters from real issues of how to solve the issues caused by the illegal immigrant influx.
“[T]hey don’t want to face any of that frustration, and fear, and ignorance that they may be hearing from their constituents. So they say, ‘Let’s put a question on the ballot. Let’s point that energy somewhere else, because I want to make sure I remain in my seat,'” Vasquez said.
“I understand the fear, but I think that fear and ignorance is going to guide us to a place where our city and country are even more divided,” he said.
Chicago has a “Welcoming City Ordinance” that protects illegal immigrants from deportation and says benefits and services cannot be denied to illegal immigrants.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.