Residents call for sanctuary city status in city council meeting

By Olivia Spiers

Community members at the Tuesday’s city council meeting asked council members to make Carbondale a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants.

Jesslyn Jobe, one of 10 people who wrote the drafted bill, said it was modeled after the proposed Sanctuary State Act in the Illinois House of Representatives. That law would prevent use of state or federal resources to detect or apprehend undocumented immigrants residing in Illinois.

“We have an incredibly diverse community, especially in the student population at SIU,” Jobe told the council.


The Carbondale residents presented the draft in response to President Donald Trump’s operation to remove undocumented immigrants. Supporters of the measure said they hoped the  city council would “promote inclusivity among the community and keep diversity alive.”

President Trump said in a press conference Feb. 23 that his administration’s “military operation” would effectively deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw suggested the council draft a letter to Carbondale’s state representatives expressing the city’s acceptance of the bill, saying such action would bring “more acceptance community wide.”

The state legislation was assigned to the Judiciary Criminal Committee on March 1. Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, is one of the committee’s 10 members.

Council members said the ordinance would be considered at the next meeting and possibly approved regardless if the state bill is passed.

“Documented or not, people are worried here,” Councilman Adam Loos said. “It’s obvious something needs to happen.”

In other city council news:


County-wide bike trail

The council passed an ordinance to fund an off-road bicycle and pedestrian path to connect Carbondale and Murphysboro.

Carbondale, Murphysboro and Jackson County will split the total $165,000 equally to complete the project in the next fiscal year. The decision to expand biking paths comes after Carbondale was named a bike-friendly community in 2016 by the League of American Bicyclists.

“We continue to pursue opportunities to enhance the bicycling network in Carbondale as well as within Jackson County,” City Manager Gary Williams said.

Councilman Lee Fronabarger voted to further discuss the ordinance during the meeting. He said he felt the bill needed “extra attention because it accentuates good qualities of life.”

Fourth Friday Fairs

The council approved a new series of events kicking off next month featuring live entertainment, local artists and food vendors downtown.

Dubbed the Fourth Friday Fairs series, the events are to be co-hosted by Carbondale Community Arts and the Carbondale Park District. City ordinance restrictions were modified at Tuesday’s meeting to allow public consumption of alcohol in the Town Square Pavilion from 6 to 9 p.m. on designated event nights.

The city is allowing a “BYOB” option for patrons, similar to the Sunset Concert series. Vendor alcohol sales are prohibited and the city has issued no temporary liquor licenses for the events.

The event dates are: April 28, May 26, June 30, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29.

Solar eclipse street maintenance

The city appropriated $494,509 for maintenance of all city streets in need of repair in preparation for the August solar eclipse.

The money is to be drawn from motor fuel tax funds allocated by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The funds would additionally cover the repair of traffic signals, pavement markings and bridge inspections.

The solar eclipse expected to bring 50,000 visitors from around the world. The city launched various projects such as the Downtown Master Plan and the Master Bike Path.

Mayor John Henry said he hoped the improvements would give Carbondale “a polished look.”

Community Agency Funding

The council approved funding to 10 community organizations, two of which requested increases in funding because of potential discontinued grants from the state.

The Boys & Girls Club requested $1,000 more to prepare for the loss of the state-funded Teen Reach Grant in wake of the budget impasse.

The director of the Carbondale Boys & Girls Club, Randy Osborne, said the center has seen 804 more participants and expanded to four different city locations since 2014.

Attucks after-school care program also requested a $6,775 increase because the state is no longer funding the program in the next fiscal year.

Carbondale Northwest neighborhood no parking zones

The council designated “no parking areas” in Carbondale’s Northwest neighborhood because of inconsistent street widths.

The council concluded the insufficient width would not allow on-street parking on both sides of the six streets and still allow the passage of large vehicles.  The council said parking presented challenges to providing some emergency and fire rescue vehicles as well as refuse and recycling vehicles.

The city staff made recommendations for on-street parking that would allow residents to park in safe zones on the west side of Sycamore Street.  

Staff writer Olivia Spiers can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_spierso.

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