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Naperville: Welcoming city? Sanctuary city? Neither? Both?

Naperville: Welcoming city? Sanctuary city? Neither? Both?


At the March 3, 2017 City Council meeting, Councilwoman Becky Anderson proposed a resolution declaring Naperville as a “welcoming city.” She specified that she was not proposing an ordinance but a resolution, and not as a “sanctuary city,” but as a “welcoming city.”






Which prompts the question of ‘what’s the difference?’


There is apparently no legal definition for either. After Reno, Nevada passed a resolution to become a ‘Welcoming City’ NPR Reno posted the following on its website: “What exactly is a welcoming city? • It’s primarily a symbolic gesture, re-affirming the city’s position of inclusion and zero tolerance stance on discrimination. • Much of the resolution has to do with community policing, and maintaining the police department’s rules about not profiling people based on race or ethnicity. • Nothing in this resolution changes any laws or statutes in the city charter.”


According to CNN.Com, “the term ‘sanctuary city’ is a broad term applied to jurisdictions that have policies in place designed to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement actions. Cities, counties and some states have a range of informal policies as well as actual laws that qualify as ‘sanctuary’ positions.” Similar definitions can be found in The Economist, USA Today, and elsewhere.


So a “welcoming city” seems to be a symbolic gesture of inclusion and zero tolerance on discrimination, while a “sanctuary city” seems to apply to jurisdictions which limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement actions.


From the Naperville Police Department Policy Manual: “1.2.9 Incidents Involving Citizenship Status. A. Officers shall provide police service to all persons in the City of Naperville regardless of their citizenship status. B. Pursuant to federal law, the enforcement of immigration law generally rests with the US Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and not with the state and local police. C. Naperville police officers shall not:

  1. Investigate or enforce potential immigration law violations.

  2. Arrest, detain or continue to detain a person solely on the belief that the person is not present legally in the United States, by unlawfully entering the country and/or by exceeding his/her Visa, or that the person has committed a civil immigration violation.

  3. Arrest, detain or continue to detain a person based on an administrative warrant entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, successor database, or similar database maintained by the United States, when the warrant is issued solely on a violation of an (administrative) civil immigration law.

  4. Detain, or continue to detain, a person based upon an immigration detainer, when such immigration detainer is based solely on a violation of a civil immigration law.

  5. Petition for an administrative warrant or immigration detainer for a person under investigation or arrest.” Section D.4 of the same reads: “If it is learned that an ICE administrative warrant or immigration detainer exists for an individual in custody on unrelated criminal charges, the individual shall not be held on the immigration warrant or detainer. The arresting officer or detention officer will notify ICE that the individual is in custody but that the individual will not be held beyond completion of the bonding process on the criminal charges.”

Those certainly read like “policies in place designed to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement actions,” which seems to be the general definition of a “sanctuary city.”


Councilman Kevin Coyne however, apparently believes that formally describing Naperville as either a “sanctuary” or even “welcoming” city would be finding a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. In a recently published article, Councilman Coyne was quoted as saying “I don’t see it achieving anything because police here already don’t pursue illegal immigrants pretty much as a matter of policy.”


So Naperville appears to already fit the generally accepted definition of a “sanctuary city.”

However, at least one member of the City Council wants Naperville to declare itself a “welcoming” city but not a “sanctuary” city, while at least one other member does not want Naperville to declare itself as either a “welcoming” or “sanctuary” city.


Here’s a crazy idea: call it what it is.



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