Urbana council discusses becoming sanctuary city
URBANA — Alderman Eric Jakobsson started Monday's city council meeting by suggesting the group to discuss sanctuary-city possibilities in the "near future."
In the weeks since Donald Trump was elected, several major cities including Chicago are upholding their sanctuary-city statuses to protect those in the country illegally.
Trump said in a post-election interview on CBS's "60 Minutes" that he will deport 2 million to 3 million immigrants with criminal records. According to NPR, Trump is also planning to strip federal funding from cities that continue to serve as sanctuaries.
Mayor Laurel Prussing agreed that the issue should be discussed and mentioned previous city legislation that allows for refugee protection. Before the council meeting, she said she attended a Urbana Middle School meeting where Latinos expressed concerns about immigration issues.
In addition to Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, the mayors of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Philadelphia have promised to maintain sanctuary-city policies.
Prussing then proposed another future council discussion on the way Urbana addresses mental health issues. She recently went to a New York City conference on the topic and signed the city up to join a coalition working on the issue.
"I think we can do better, and it starts with very young children," Prussing said. "When you see the shooting epidemic, which is affecting us, that is because people don't know how to handle problems without violence."
The city is on the heels of fatal shootings Wednesday and Nov. 10.
Alderman Aaron Ammons said drawing a line between mental illness and violence is concerning to him.
"That would say (all of) America has mental health problems ... which could be true," Ammons said.
Jakobsson agreed with Prussing, saying anyone in the criminal-justice system that has a mental illness should leave better than they came. He said the city will have to work with the county to make any criminal-justice reform.
In other business, the council unanimously approved legislation to set the property-tax levy for fiscal year 2016-17 at $8,746,910. Last week, Champaign unanimously sent an "optimistic" 2016 property-tax levy of $21,983,600 to a final vote on Dec. 6.
In addition, the council unanimously approved establishing privately financed Property Assessed Clean Energy spaces. The areas will be conducive to improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy, according to a memorandum from Public Works director William Gray and Environmental Stainability Manager Scott Tess.