City Council urged to take action to ease immigration fears

Valeria Cobos

City Council urged to take  action to ease immigration fears
February 23
00:05 2017

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

The City Council heard even more support for Winston-Salem declaring itself a sanctuary city or a “welcoming city” for immigrants and refugees during its meeting on Monday, Feb 20.

So many people singed up for the council’s monthly public comment session that it was extended from its normal 30 minute time limit to 45 minutes. With the exception of a few people who spoke to different issues, all the comments urged the City Council to either adopt a sanctuary city petition created by residents or a new resolution City Council Member Dan Besse drafted declaring Winston-Salem a “welcoming city.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month greatly expanding priority deportations. Some reports say that it’s already affecting immigration arrests, including coordinated multi-state raids that took place earlier this month that resulted in more than 84 arrests in North Carolina.

Valeria Cobos, who is a permanent resident but whose family remains largely undocumented, said she’s constantly hearing about deportations in the immigrant community. She worries if her parents are deported, she may end up having to raise her young siblings.

“I keep thinking, ‘Are we next?’” said Cobos.

Winston-Salem Sanctuary City Coalition, which includes groups like the the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity and El Cambio, presented a petition last month asking the city to ensure the civil liberties of all residents and to “not actively participate” in immigration enforcement “to the extent that it runs counter to constitutional and international human rights.”

A state law passed in 2016 prohibits cities from declaring themselves sanctuary cities, which do not  cooporate with federal immigration enforcement. Trump’s executive immigration order said that federal funds will be withheld from sanctuary cities.

To avoid any perceived violation of the law, Besse proposed a “welcoming city” resolution. It says the city “takes pride in serving and protecting” all residents and “opposes any measures which target populations within our diverse community for legal scrutiny or other challenges.”

Several speakers praised the resolution.

“We all want a peaceful community where we can enjoy a high quality of life,” said Ron Berra.

“The welcoming city resolution authored by Councilman Besse accurately describes what that type of community looks like. And it offers a concrete suggestion on how to achieve it in these

contentious times.”

A vote on the resolution may come next month. It will go before the general government committee on Tuesday, March 21.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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