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Berwyn City Council opposes federal law that would affect immigrant housing

BERWYN – The Berwyn City Council is forming a united front against a proposed federal rule change that would force landlords to enforce immigration policies prohibiting mixed-status families in federally subsidized housing units.

At its July 9 meeting, the council formalized its opposition by filing a letter of protest with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The proposed rule change is in conflict with Berwyn’s Welcoming City Ordinance, which aims to prevent coordination between the city and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The issue was originally brought to the city council’s attention at its June 25 meeting.

Since then, further information has been presented to the Human Relations and Housing Committee.

In the letter of protest, the city urged U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to withdraw the proposed rule change immediately.

Current laws and regulations already prohibit federal housing programs from subsidizing immigrants who are ineligible for assistance, but allow families to stay together with pro-rated assistance, city officials said.

The city argued that the proposed rule change would reduce the amount and quality of assistance HUD can provide, harming thousands of families.

Mayor Robert Lovero said the letter of protest communicates what the entire city council is suggesting to HUD.

Also at the meeting, Police Chief Michael Cimaglia briefed the council about the result of negotiations with Barnacle Corp. regarding the cost associated with setting up a new booting method for parking scofflaws.

The city wants to buy five of Barnacle Corp.’s windshield-covering parking enforcement devices. The device, called the Barnacle, unfolds and sticks onto a windshield. A built-in pump is used to draw air from the suction cups, creating a vacuum. An integrated GPS signals an alarm if the car moves.

Drivers who have the Barnacle affixed to their windshields can make a payment over the phone in exchange for the code needed to release the device.

The city agreed to a $50 labeling fee for each device. The initial $700 set-up fee was waived. The metal drop box used when the devices are returned was discounted by 25%, lowering the device cost from $1,500 to $1,125. Barnacle will receive a 5% surcharge for any fines more than $150. The booting or application fee was raised from $50 to $60 to remain consistent with the city’s parking ordinance.

Cimaglia said the city originally believed the new devices would cost more than $3,000, but negotiations resulted in a lower cost.

In other business, the council:

• Entered into a one-year, $192,500 agreement with MRA for parking ticket payment processing. In partnership with the city’s third-party collection firm, Sonneschein Financial Services, MRA will work to collect unpaid parking tickets totaling about $6.8 million from 2015 to 2018.

• Approved a $44,260 contract with G. Fisher Construction for replacement of stair treads and construction of study rooms at the Berwyn Public Library.

• Awarded the bid for the 2018 Community Development Block Grant roadway and sewer replacement project to M & J Asphalt Paving in the amount of $533,533.

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