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GLT stories about immigrants living in Bloomington-Normal.

Mathy Regrets Lack Of Opportunity For Dialogue On Welcoming City Issue

City council members at a dais in the Center for the Performing Arts.
Baylee Steelman
The Welcoming City issue in Bloomington began even before this December meeting at the BCPA.

Bloomington Alderman Jamie Mathy said he regrets cancellation of the special meeting last week to deal with a new version of a Welcoming City ordinance.

Mathy said a couple aldermen were not interested in talking about the ordinance simply because of the way the meeting was called.

"As a special meeting versus being put onto a Committee of the Whole (agenda) to talk about, was there interest from the council to even look at another draft? Yeah, I think there was some politics involved, personal interactions. I think that hurt this particular effort," said Mathy.

Mathy said he spent about 20 hours the previous weekend talking with city residents about the issues surrounding such an ordinance and now the richness of that dialogue will likely be lost.

Even though the effort to pass a Welcoming City ordinance has apparently failed, there's public benefit to codifying and publicizing police policy on the issue, said Mathy.

Mathy said several police officers have told him they simply don't ask about citizenship, but it's not a written policy, which might prevent the entire community from acting as a whole.

"But if we codify it and write it down into the official procedures we follow, maybe that brings forward a level of assurance with the communities that we can start working towards that whole community and fighting back against violent crime," said Mathy.

Mathy said undocumented immigrants need to talk with law enforcement for police to do their jobs solving crimes. To do that, fear in that segment of the community needs to be addressed.

Mathy said he still hopes the federal government will step up and address the issue for the entire country. He said it is not feasible to deport 11 million people, so some sort of resolution short of that has to happen.

Hear Alderman Jamie Mathy talk about the next step in the Welcoming City issue with GLT's Charlie Schlenker.

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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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