Feb. 7, 2017 – The Village of Oak Park’s Board of Trustees adopted a new ordinance Monday designating the community as a welcoming Village where citizenship or immigration status does not factor in any interaction between individuals and municipal employees.
Working closely with several human rights advocacy groups, the Village Board and staff drafted an ordinance that codifies the longstanding practice among Village employees – including members of the Oak Park Police Department – of not collecting or maintaining information related to the immigration status of Village residents and visitors.
Village officials stressed that the ordinance does not violate federal law, but clarifies communications and enforcement relationships between the Village and the federal government. Officials said the ordinance makes it clear that immigration is a federal issue and does not involve the Village or its employees.
“Achieving and maintaining a community that treats all people with respect and dignity is in keeping with longstanding Village policies and the principles upon which the United States was founded,” said Community Relations Director Cedric Melton.
“The Welcoming Village Ordinance will promote the general welfare of Village residents and visitors alike and formally state that immigrant community members, whether documented citizens or not, should be treated with respect by all Village employees.”
In most respects, the ordinance means business as usual in Oak Park since the Village has never routinely included questions about citizenship or immigration status in interactions with residents or visitors.
Melton said the Welcoming Village ordinance underscores Oak Park’s longstanding commitment to being a welcoming and diverse community. In 1968, the Village became one of the first municipalities in the country to adopt and enforce a Human Rights Ordinance protecting the rights of individuals within the classes of race, sex, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, age, marital status, familial status or disability in the purchasing, leasing, securing a loan, renting or occupying housing or other real estate.
“This new Welcoming Village Ordinance shares the underlying intent of the local Human Rights Ordinance adopted by Oak Park nearly 50 years ago,” he said. “Both ordinances are about discrimination. The Welcoming Village Ordinance confirms that municipal employees will not pre-judge someone’s right to be a part of our community.”