Newark passes ‘wel­com­ing city’ res­o­lu­tion

City vows not to in­ves­ti­gate im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

City coun­cil waded into the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate Mon­day, pass­ing a largely sym­bolic res­o­lu­tion declar­ing Newark a “wel­com­ing city” to ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

The res­o­lu­tion pro­hibits the police depart­ment from in­ves­ti­gat­ing or de­tain­ing a per­son solely on the ba­sis of a sus­pected vi­o­la­tion of im­mi­gra­tion law. It also dic­tates that the city will not share pri­vate in­for­ma­tion about an in­di­vid­ual with state or fed­eral agen­cies un­less it is re­quired to do so by law.

“This res­o­lu­tion is re­ally just rec­og­niz­ing poli­cies and pro­ce­dures that the city police have al­ready been un­der­tak­ing,” said Coun­cil­woman Jen Wal­lace, who helped spear­head the ef­fort. “This is just a way for us to get the word out and make it known Newark is re­ally con­cerned with pub­lic safety and not other things that it shouldn’t be con­cerned with.”

Newark Police Chief Paul Tier­nan con­firmed that the res­o­lu­tion does not af­fect the way his of­fi­cers do their job.

“The Newark Police Depart­ment does not and never did solely stop any­one or in­ves­ti­gate any­body based on im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus,” Tier­nan said, not­ing the res­o­lu­tion sim­ply cod­i­fies ex­ist­ing pol­icy. “This changes noth­ing in the way this depart­ment has acted and will act.”

The res­o­lu­tion does not pre­vent the police depart­ment from tak­ing ac­tion when some­one ar­rested for another crime is found to be in the coun­try il­le­gally.

“If some­one com­mits a crime and there’s an im­mi­gra­tion is­sue, that would be in­ves­ti­gated,” Tier­nan said.

The res­o­lu­tion was pushed by the ad­vo­cacy group Net­work Delaware. Sev­eral mem­bers and other res­i­dents have spo­ken at coun­cil meet­ings over the past few months urg­ing Newark to adopt the res­o­lu­tion.

Ear­lier this year, New Cas­tle County and the Christina School District adopted sim­i­lar mea­sures, which are of­ten re­ferred to as “sanc­tu­ary city” laws by crit­ics.

“I have long thought we should make a pub­lic stand on be­half of our un­doc­u­mented friends, neigh­bors, stu­dents and co­work­ers,” said Newark res­i­dent Mi­randa Wil­son, one of the chief pro­po­nents of the res­o­lu­tion. “Our com­mu­nity is made stronger when all of us, re­gard­less of im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, feel that our law en­force­ment is here to pro­tect us.”

“Mak­ing a pub­lic dec­la­ra­tion, a good­will state­ment, makes us feel good about our­selves and our com­mu­nity and dur­ing this sea­son spreads good will to all,” res­i­dent Catri­ona Bin­der-Ma­cleod added.

Res­i­dent Karen Barker said the res­o­lu­tion “makes an im­por­tant state­ment about who we are and the val­ues we hold here in the city of Newark, val­ues that in­clude wel­com­ing all peo­ple with re­spect.”

Only one res­i­dent, Al­bert Po­rach, spoke out against the res­o­lu­tion Mon­day, call­ing it “ab­so­lutely ab­surd.”

“If you all in­sist on pass­ing this tonight, I think I will write a let­ter to the at­tor­ney gen­eral to see if he can bring ac­tion against the city of Newark,” Po­rach said.

The res­o­lu­tion passed 6-1, with Coun­cil­man Luke Chap­man cast­ing the lone op­pos­ing vote.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful ex­am­ple of us work­ing to­gether, and I ap­pre­ci­ate all of your ef­forts,” Mayor Polly Sierer said after the vote, ad­dress­ing the sup­port­ers in the au­di­ence.

In July, act­ing City Man­ager Tom Cole­man warned coun­cil that pass­ing sanc­tu­ary city leg­is­la­tion could re­sult in the loss of a $150,000 fed­eral grant, thanks to an ex­ec­u­tive or­der is­sued by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. How­ever, a fed­eral judge re­cently struck down the or­der.

City spokes­woman Kelly Bach­man said Tues­day that the city no longer be­lieves the res­o­lu­tion will af­fect grant fund­ing.

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