Bloomington council approves motion to be more inclusive of immigrants

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Bloomington city leaders held their first city council meeting of 2021 and approved a major item off the agenda.

After a 7-0 vote, the city will now work to find ways within the government and the community that it can be more inclusive of both documented and undocumented immigrants.

Monday night, the council voted for a resolution to work hand in hand with the non-profit Welcoming America, which aims to work with members to improve diversity.

Councilmembers said this isn’t an ordinance and that the goal isn’t to become officially certified. Rather, the city and leaders would work with Welcoming America to make employment more accessible to immigrants as well as improve connections between the immigrant and non-immigrant residents of Bloomington.

Jamie Mathey Ward 1 city council member voted ‘yay’ for motion and said he supported it years back when pitched by a former council member.

“We have to remember that in Bloomington, we have immigrants from many different places around the world, not just Mexico and Latin American and South America,” Mathey said. “I look forward to a process like this to make sure that everybody who comes to Bloomington is welcome and finds an environment where they can be successful.”

With the approval, the city expects to pay an annual membership fee to Welcoming American in the range from $200-$500 a year.

Not in Our Town Co-Chairs Mike Matejka and Camille Taylor expressed the group’s support of the passing, but hopes the city does more in terms of an ordinance.

“Not In Our Town supports the City of Bloomington passing the proposed Welcoming America initiative tonight.  At the same time, Not In Our Town also supports and highly encourages the City to pass a Welcoming City ordinance.  They are compatible; Welcoming America is an endorsement of a community wide effort, including local organizations, businesses and others, to create a community environment that is inclusive of our immigrant neighbors.  A Welcoming City ordinance is a specific directive to City staff and departments on how they respond to and treat immigrants.  They are not mutually exclusive, but are mutually compatible.  We hope the Council advances the Welcoming America ordinance tonight and also look forward to and support a Welcoming City ordinance in the near future.”

Mike Matejka and Camille Taylor, Co-chairs Not in Our Town Bloomington-Normal.

An ordinance would give immigrants who are undocumented more protection from federal ICE agents and make it harder to deport them. Momday’s passing does not offer that level of protection.

The two councilmembers who expressed concerns in December, Ward 6’s Jenn Carillo and Ward 8’s Jeff Crabill about becoming a Welcoming America City were absent from Monday’s meeting.

Carillo issued a statement on Facebook hoping the city would table the matter until an ordinance would get agreed upon.

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