Mayor notes efforts for Hispanics

September 20, 2018

KANKAKEE — The mayor on Wednesday advertised the city’s efforts to help the growing local Hispanic population.

She spoke during a public meeting on immigration issues at Kankakee Public Library, an event that included U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly and Luis Gutierrez, both Illinois Democrats. About 75 people attended.

In a speech, Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said her administration has made efforts to include Hispanics on city committees.

Two of the last three hires at the Kankakee Police Department were Hispanics, bringing the total to six, or about 10 percent of the police force, Wells-Armstrong said.

“Our police force should reflect the community it serves,” the mayor said. “We will need to keep recruiting Hispanic officers, especially female Hispanic officers.”

In other efforts, Wells-Armstrong said, the city worked with others to reopen Hippocrates Medical Clinic, which closed after the arrest of its founder last year. The Hispanic community expressed support for the facility, she said.

The ribbon-cutting will be in late October, she said.

On the topic of immigration, both Kelly and Gutierrez railed against President Donald Trump’s policies.

Kelly, whose district includes Kankakee County, said Trump’s goal was to intimidate immigrants.

“They are not just targeting criminals. They are targeting everyone and anyone, people who have been living in their communities for years,” she said.

Gutierrez said immigration was just one part of Trump’s “promotion of division among the American people,” noting Trump’s first campaign speech calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals.

Gutierrez, who is leaving Congress in January, is going to work for a group called the National Partnership for New Americans, which aims to help one million legal residents become citizens by the 2020 presidential election.

“We’ll register people to vote. We can’t tell them how to vote. I suspect how they’re going to vote,” he said.

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