Emotions run high as Springfield aldermen table Welcoming City resolution

A Welcoming City is not to be confused with sanctuary cities as there are no legalities involved. (WICS)

There were tears and outbursts at the Committee of the Whole meeting, as aldermen refuse to vote on naming Springfield a Welcoming City.

Emotions ran high in the chambers Tuesday, as dozens address the topic of immigrants and refugees.

A Welcoming City is not to be confused with sanctuary cities as there are no legalities involved.

In the end, it was a disappointing vote for some.

Tena Haile, born in Utah, with a mother from Guam, now living stateside, said she's been working on the Welcoming City resolution for about six months.

“I think it's kicking the teeth to the immigrant people here,” she said. “We have a lot of people."

Tuesday, the Committee voted to table the resolution and not send it to next week’s City Council.

"I know how it feels to be ‘other’,” Haile said. “To be constantly reminded that you don't belong."

Mayor Jim Langfelder said the vote doesn’t involve legalities, rather it's a vote to rid the hate, and unify the community.

A Welcoming City is a title to create a sense of belonging for all immigrants and refugees.

“Whether it’s an immigrant or someone not being treated like they should,” said Mayor Langfelder. “We need to know about it because anybody not obeying the law will be held accountable."

The room also had those against the resolution. Rosanna Pulido addressed the council and spoke from the crowd at one point. She said she's relieved the aldermen decided not send the vote to City Council.

“Springfield has enough problems,” she said. “We have homeless, we have jobless, I’d rather our aldermen be focused on that."

The table request came from Ward 10 Alderman Ralph Hanauer, and seconded by Ward 1 Alderman Chuck Redpath.

Hanauer said an Illinois congressional staff told him Springfield could lose federal funds if it became a Welcoming City. The name of the person was not revealed.

Dicenso said the resolution is merely a title and does not involve working against federal regulations, therefore, she said Hanauer’s statement is false.

All Aldermen voted to table the resolution except Ward 6 Alderwoman Kristin DiCenso, Ward 9 Alderman Jim Donelan and Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin.

To take the resolution out of the tabled agenda, the Mayor said at least seven Aldermen have to agree.

“It’s just a way for us to say ‘you are a vital part of our community and you belong here’,” said Halie. “And unfortunately, I don’t think that's the message they're going to hear from what has happened tonight."

Another way to bring up a tabled resolution is to create an amended version and address the committee again.

The sponsoring alderman Kristin DiCenso said she will keep working with the Welcoming City group, who are a part of Action Illinois, to see how they want to move forward.

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