LAKE STATION — The City Council wants to take away any confusion about when it would take action on the proposed welcoming city ordinance, so it has decided to remove the topic from its agenda for now.
Council President Carlos Luna said the action doesn't mean the council is giving up on the measure.
The council approved the first reading of the ordinance in late May. Since then, the second and final reading of the measure has been tabled as the city continues to review the document and contemplate possible changes to it.
It isn't certain when that work will finish. Luna said leaving the ordinance on the agenda while those efforts continue gives the appearance the council could vote on it in the near future, which isn't the case.
He said city leaders also are busy handling other matters, including preparing Lake Station's 2018 budget proposal. Taking the welcoming city measure off the agenda also allows the council to focus more attention on those matters.
After handling the budget process and other issues, the welcoming city ordinance could go before the council again.
"It's not going away," Luna said.
A portion of the measure that's received much discussion and review involves police encounters with those who haven't yet obtained legal status.
A draft of the measure indicates “the Lake Station Police Department will recognize and consider the extreme potential negative consequences of an arrest in exercising its discretion regarding whether to take such an action and will arrest an individual only after determining that less severe alternatives are unavailable or would be inadequate to effect a satisfactory resolution.”
Some have viewed that as giving more leniency to immigrants who don't have legal status, and they believe officers should handle calls in the manner they think is appropriate to keep the community safe.
Supporters of the ordinance have said the measure asks the status of an immigrant be one of the discretionary factors used when police respond to a situation, but it doesn't ask officers to avoid arresting those who have committed crimes.