Naperville residents denounce McBroom’s ‘polite challenge’ to house migrants

Naperville residents Tuesday blasted City Councilman Josh McBroom, describing his idea of a volunteer sign up sheet to house migrants as disingenuous and nothing more than a political stunt.

McBroom drew national media attention following a Jan. 16 council meeting during which he suggested the city should look into creating a sign up sheet for residents interested in housing new arrivals. In the days after the meeting, McBroom, a Republican, said his proposal was a “polite challenge” to those who support open borders.

A week later, McBroom and three other council members who supported the notion withdrew the request and the city manager issued a memo stating city staff would not look into the proposal and it would not come before council for further discussion.

“It has been astonishing to hear a council member declare with baseless conviction that Naperville residents are hypocrites about supporting people in need because they didn’t sign a nonexistent form,” resident Meena Banasiak said. “Instead of making an earnest effort to find common ground among different perspectives you provide a disingenuous proposal that needlessly insulted our residents and diverted attention from solving the actual problem to ridiculing people who want a real solution.”

Banasiak was among the more than 150 people who attended Tuesday’s meeting, which included public comment from more than 30 residents. Though several focused on McBroom, others requested a resolution from the city council supporting a cease-fire in Gaza and addressed issues such as controversy surrounding this year’s social service agency grant awards and the resignation of a human rights and fair housing commission member.

Banasiak and others called on council members to censure McBroom. Though some council members expressed disappointment in the events since Jan. 16, they did not discuss or indicate support for censure.

  Naperville city council members listen to public comments during Tuesday's meeting. Several criticized Councilman Josh McBroom, on left, calling his suggestion of a volunteer sign up sheet for those willing to house migrants a political stunt. Alicia Fabbre/

After Tuesday’s meeting, McBroom said that while many who spoke offered to help — either through donations or programs — he did not hear anyone offer to house any migrants in their homes.

Earlier this month, McBroom sent a letter to Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott thanking him for his leadership with the migrant crisis and shared his volunteer sign up sheet proposal.

“Democrat legislators helped to create this mess and now the rest of us are left paying the bill,” McBroom wrote. “Many of my colleagues and fellow residents are quick to support the idea of welcoming and supporting new migrants, but no one is willing to invite them into their home. And my statement proved that.”

Naperville City Councilman Josh McBroom

McBroom repeated similar sentiments Tuesday and remained steadfast in his belief that taxpayers should not foot the bill for new arrivals. In January, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced another $11 million in state grants would be made available to municipalities to assist new arrivals.

“I don’t want to use tax dollars, I don’t want to take state aid,” McBroom said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli said the city has not applied for state grant funding to assist migrants. He added that any grant application would have to come before the council. Though the city has not received buses carrying migrants from Texas in recent weeks, Wehrli said the city intends to follow its plan and provide safe passage to new arrivals to the landing zone in Chicago.

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