College students push for 'welcome' sign from River Forest
Students from a local college have asked the board of trustees of River Forest to consider declaring the municipality a “welcoming community” after the university reaffirmed its designation as a sanctuary campus this spring.
The board followed with a meeting of the whole on June 19 in which staff members were directed to develop a resolution on the matter. A draft was to be presented on July 10, but a formal vote will not take place until at least August -- much depends on the wording of the resolution.
In the earlier meeting, multiple students and administrators from Dominican University talked to the board about the process and their concerns regarding inclusion and safety in the community. Some students are undocumented, the administrators said.
Carolina Talavera, a senior and student leader of the Dominican Immigrant Student Collective, said some students are worried about their safety and afraid of deportation.
"Students don't want to be criminalized; they don’t feel safe,” Talavera said, according to Oakpark.com. “Not finding a family member at home -- I wouldn't wish it on anybody.”
Claire Noonan, vice president of ministry and mission at Dominican, sees the good in the welcome designation as well.
“Having a welcoming city would guide the behavior of our city officials and our whole community and is consistent with Catholic identity and the mission of this institution,” she said.
Oakpark.com reported that trustee Mike Gibbs questioned some characterizations of law enforcement and local officials.
"To present River Forest as an unsafe and unwelcoming community, I take umbrage with that because I don't feel we are,” Gibbs said, according to Oakpark.com. "To have government and law enforcement presented as the bad guys in this situation, I'm uncomfortable with that."