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Two aldermen want voters to decide if Chicago should remain sanctuary city for migrants

Aldermen propose ballot referendum on whether Chicago should remain sanctuary city
Aldermen propose ballot referendum on whether Chicago should remain sanctuary city 02:28

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Wednesday marked a record for the city of Chicago, as the largest number of buses carrying migrants in one day – 14 – were expected to arrive.

But Mayor Brandon Johnson said it could be as many as 22.

The new arrivals will join the 3,167 migrants waiting for housing – most staying at Chicago Police district stations at a bus terminal at O'Hare International Airport.

So far, Chicago has welcomed a total of 17,000 new migrant arrivals.

Meanwhile, as CBS 2's Sabrina Franza reported, two aldermen want Chicago to rethink being a sanctuary city, and leave it up to voters to decide if the city should continue offering protections for undocumented immigrants.

Alds. Anthony Napolitano (41st) and Anthony Beale (9th) have sponsored a resolution to add a referendum to March 2024 primary ballots in Chicago, asking voters if the city should keep its sanctuary city designation.

This is one of two proposals. The other asks for alderpeople to be notified if they are receiving buses full of migrants in their wards.

The moves come as the city works to find housing for more than 14,000 asylum seekers who have been brought to Chicago since last August. Hundreds of those migrants are still sleeping on the floors of Chicago police stations.

The city recently signed a $29 million contract to set up tent base camps for migrants.

Chicago's "Welcoming City Ordinance" bars police officers from cooperating with federal immigration agents; and prohibits city agencies from detaining anyone solely based on their immigration status, or transferring anyone to the custody of federal immigration officials solely for civil immigration enforcement. Unless otherwise required by state or federal law, the city also may not ask a person about their immigration status, or share that information with any other agency.

"Hopefully, the message gets across that you have to communicate - number one - and let the people know what's going on in these wards, and what's going on with the migrants," said Ald. Beale. "They're not communicating with the aldermen about what is happening with the migrants."

Alderman wants voters to decide whether Chicago remains sanctuary city 02:17

Beale received migrants that he was not expecting this past weekend.

"This was totally disrespectful to my community," Beale said. "I'm not in communication with anybody when they put migrants in my ward over the weekend."

Beale spoke to us just after officially proposing the two migrant measures.

First, he wants all voters to decide, in a full referendum, whether or not they think Chicago should remain a sanctuary city. If approved, the vote would appear on the March 2024 ballot.

However, this proposal is not expected to pass the City Council Rules Committee.

Beale also proposed a measure that would require the city to alert alderpeople ahead of time that migrants are coming to their ward – and would also require alderpeople to sign off in advance. That measure is also headed to committee after Ald. Beale noted his ward received buses over the weekend – and found itself scrambling to find a place to shelter people.

Opponents of both of these plans explained how that idea could backfire – forcing some wards to house more migrants than others.

"I think it's absolutely fair to have better communication," said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), chair of the City Council Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "I think the only issue I took with the ordinance that it requires sign-off by the alder - and so I think if you do that, you're eliminating the opportunity for everyone to take on some of the sacrifice."

Vasquez said both the proposals are basically non-starters.

"I believe that the mayor stated that it's not about the community having a say one way or the other; that it needs to happen because of the crisis," he said.

Mayor Johnson reacted to the proposals after the City Council adjourned Wednesday.

"These alders who have put forth this resolution - join the choir," Johnson said. "Join the choir in pushing for the federal government, the state government, to continue to share the responsibility."

The date for further discussion on both of these measures is still to be announced. Ald. Beale told us at the very least, he hopes to get his message across.

Last week, we told you about plans for some alderpeople to join the mayor in a trip to the border. We found on Wednesday that the plan is still in the works – and we will keep following up.

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