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GLT stories about immigrants living in Bloomington-Normal.

Normal To Consider Welcoming Ordinance Monday

Speakers hold signs and stand in front of Bloomington City Hall
Charlie Schlenker
The Keep Families Together Coalition rallied in 2016 outside Bloomington City Hall and will rally in Uptown next Monday evening.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the proposed ordinance has been released. You can read it here.

The Normal Town Council will take up a Welcoming City ordinance at its meeting on Monday.

Mayor Chris Koos said there might be some last-minute tweaks to the proposal, but the measure leans on the language in the town's Comprehensive Plan and Visioning Report.

"It talks about what kind of community we envision the Town of Normal to be. And a lot of the precepts of that, a welcoming community, a community that values diversity, things like that are partly the whereas language, if you will, that describes how we came to where this ordinance will be," said Koos.

Koos said talks about the shape of the ordinance have gone on some four to six months behind the scenes. He characterized the atmosphere as cordial.

"Both sides were fairly passionate about what they wanted to see come of it. Both sides acknowledge there were going to be compromises."

"Both sides were fairly passionate about what they wanted to see come of it. Both sides acknowledge there were going to be compromises. For us, it was something our police chief could be comfortable with and something the Immigration Project could be comfortable with, and I think we have hit that point," Koos said.

Because there could be last-minute adjustments, Koos declined to share the provisions in detail. But the Keep Families Together Coalition pushing for an ordinance had said earlier it was seeking a definition of when and about what police would talk to agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"In a sense it does. The current form of it talks about the fact it really is a discretionary position of the police chief based on policies they currently enforce and policies they have agreed with between the Immigration Project and the Town of Normal," said Koos.

A representative of the Keep Families Together Coalition declined to comment until the formal council agenda is made public, typically on Thursday afternoon.

Koos's statement, however, suggests there are key differences between what will appear before the Normal council and the latest draft ordinance proposed by the coalition in Bloomington, which requires a ban on certain kinds of communication.

The coalition earlier acquired documentation of Bloomington and Normal Police communications with ICE under the Freedom of Information Act. In Normal, records showed sparse and infrequent interactions between local law enforcement and the federal agency. In Bloomington the documents indicated familiar, frequent, and cordial exchanges between police and ICE.

The coalition even characterized the exchanges as Bloomington Police shopping suspects to immigration officials, something police resisted as ordinary communication.

Koos declined comment on that issue and the difference in time taken by the respective municipalities in dealing with the issue. Normal has put in about half a year and Bloomington a year and a half. In Bloomington, there is little sign the measure will come to a vote soon.

Social media and emails indicate the Keep Families Together Coalition will rally at Uptown Circle at 6:15 p.m. Monday before the meeting and then go to the council session to register support for the measure.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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