City unwilling to be a ‘Sanctuary’ but considers declaring itself a ‘Welcoming City’

City unwilling to be a ‘Sanctuary’ but considers declaring itself a ‘Welcoming City’
February 16
05:35 2017

Photo by Todd Luck



City Council members were unwilling to declare Winston-Salem a sanctuary city, but may instead pass a resolution declaring its commitment against discrimination.

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

During a meeting on Tues., Feb. 14, City Attorney Angela Carmon said this would run afoul of state law that prohibits sanctuary cities – which don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement – and a recent executive order by President Donald Trump against sanctuary cities.

The General Assembly is considering legislation withholding sales tax money from such cities and the Trump administration is looking into ways to deny them federal funds.

City Council Member Denise “D.D.” Adams said the country is in a bad place when comes to attitudes and actions towards immigrants, but becoming a sanctuary could cost the city millions.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to protect our city as a whole,” said Adams.

Council Member Dan Besse proposed a resolution declaring Winston-Salem a “Welcoming City.” It says the city “takes pride in serving and protecting all our citizens, other residents, guests, and visitors” and “opposes any measures which target populations within our diverse community for legal scrutiny or other challenges.” It also directs the Human Relations Department and Commission to study and provide recommendations “to reinforce our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for immigrants, refugees and other newcomers.” The resolution will be discussed next month in the general government committee.

During the meeting, many said they agreed with City Council Member Robert Clark’s suggestion to “do nothing” on the sanctuary petition, citing that there are laws against doing it and that it might result in the city losing funds. Some also had concerns about gangs, crime, ISIS terrorists and any undocumented person entering the country.

“If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country,” said Reggie Reid.

Supporters of the petition dismissed this as unfounded fear and urged the City Council to take action. After the meeting, several said they were encouraged by Besse’s resolution and called it a step in the right direction.

“The wording he used was on point and, yeah, we need to protect our communities and oppose all forms of discrimination,” said Danny Timpona.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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