Alds. Lopez and Sigcho-Lopez Debate

Alds. Lopez and Sigcho-Lopez Debate Attempt to Add Sanctuary City Referendum to March Primary Ballot


A handful of Chicago City Council members want voters to weigh in during the March primary election on whether Chicago should stay a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. 

In order for a third referendum to be added to the March primary ballot, City Council would need to approve the move before the end of the year.

The attempt comes amid a crisis posed by the arrival of at least 23,000 migrants sent from the border since August 2022, the vast majority of whom are asylum seekers, according to the city of Chicago.

“We have become a magnet for the politics of the nation which is trying to address the failures of the federal government with regards to the border and has sent thousands to our backyard,” said Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward). “That (sanctuary city) policy is what’s driving so many individuals to send these asylum seekers here to the city of Chicago. We know that there’s a difference between someone who has temporary legal protected status, which are asylum seekers, and the hundreds of thousands who are here undocumented … I think we have to have the conversation that if this policy is the magnet, should we continue down this path? We now see Democratic cities using our city as a dumping ground for their problems.”

Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city does not require it to encourage immigrants to move to Chicago nor does the Welcoming City ordinance obligate officials to use taxpayer funds to care for immigrants in Chicago.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward) says Chicago’s sanctuary city status does not make it a magnet.

“If you look at the number of Cuban asylum seekers that are coming to Florida without sanctuary status, that makes that statement inaccurate,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “This ordinance was to protect the human rights and create equal opportunity in the city of Chicago, no matter their immigration status. I think that’s something the vast majority of residents agree on.”

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s allies have their own proposed referendum that would ask voters if the city should have spending limits on migrants.

“We need to stop those shameful federal policies that are bringing thousands of people into our country, and I would predict millions if we don’t change,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “We need to offer solutions…This sanctuary status referendum has nothing to offer toward solutions.”

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