City council approves resolution to welcome immigrants in city limits


Martha Osornio, a senior from Chicago studying cinema and photography, holds a “Hate has no home here.” sign Tuesday, April 11, 2017, during a city council meeting at the Carbondale Civic Center. Osornio, whose family immigrated illegally to the United States in 1992, attended the meeting with five other students from the Hispanic Student Council to support the resolution establishing Carbondale as a safe and welcoming community. Osornio said she has friends in Chicago who fear they might be deported for insignificant issues if they enrolled at SIU. “It makes them feel like they are welcomed, anyone that is undocumented,” Osornio said. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

The Carbondale City Council passed a resolution Tuesday to establish a safe and welcoming community for immigrants.

The resolution states city employees or departments will not ask the immigration status of residents unless required to do so by state or federal law, or by a court order. The policy devotes city law enforcement resources to ensuring the safety of the public rather than enforcement of federal immigration law.

Mayor John “Mike” Henry said the ordinance does not classify Carbondale as a so-called sanctuary city.


All the council members voted to pass the measure except Councilman Navreet Kang, who raised concerns regarding the definition of “immigrant” in the resolution and whether it protected illegal or legal immigrants.

“We will take a presumption that the person before us is here legally, and the enforcement of immigration is a strictly federal position,” said city attorney Leonard Snyder.

Snyder said the resolution was drafted to assure immigrants in the city that they can report crimes to the police department without being turned over to immigration services.

Martha Osornio, whose family came to the U.S. in 1992 as illegal immigrants, attended the meeting with five other students from the Hispanic Student Council to support racial inclusivity in the city.

Osornio said her friends in Chicago are not enrolling at SIU out of fear they might be deported for “insignificant issues.”

“It makes them feel like anyone that is undocumented is welcomed,” Osornio, a senior from Chicago studying cinema and photography, said after the meeting.

Councilwoman Carolin Harvey said she was “insulted by some of the comments” at the meeting, and “the ones who were here before the pilgrims” are the only non-immigrants in the U.S.


“People are people,” Harvey said. “We’ve gotta get past that.”

In other city council news:

Police radios

The council passed an ordinance upgrading police radios to “increase reliability and interoperability between public safety agencies.”

City manager Gary Williams said this has been a long-term project, and a recent goal of the safety plan for the upcoming 2017 Solar Eclipse event as the current radios do not provide the opportunity to communicate with adjoining jurisdictions, such as the SIU Police Department.  

The police department’s current budget includes a sufficient increase in funds for this purchase.


Councilman Adam Loos said he was “annoyed” at Lyft’s reason for ceasing operations in the city, which was announced March 31.

The ride-share service discontinued its services in Carbondale because current city ordinances would “unnecessarily add complications for both drivers and passengers, creating barriers to the use of Lyft’s services,” said Prashanthi Raman, Lyft’s senior public policy manager.

“We shouldn’t let these people strong arm us,” Loos said.

Fair Days

The council approved an ordinance to allow the sale and consumption of alcohol at the Fourth Friday Fairs this summer.

The series of events, co-hosted with Carbondale Community Arts and the Carbondale Park District, will include live entertainment, food vendors, kids’ activities, and local artists at the Town Square Pavilion.

The events will take place June 22, July 6 and July 20 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.

City Master plan

The council approved three ordinances that advance the revitalization of the city in preparation for the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

The ordinances approved decorative lights and poles to be placed downtown and the construction of a bike path spanning from Giant City Road to east Carbondale.

The city-wide project details a long-term vision and policy agenda for important issues such as land use and development, beautification, parking, pedestrian mobility and circulation.

The first steps of the plan are expected to be implemented by August.

Staff writer Abbey La Tour can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @latourabbey.

Staff writer Athena Chrysanthou can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Chrysant1Athena