Council approves scaled-back sanctuary city resolution

New London — The City Council on Monday approved a scaled-back version of a resolution that highlights existing protections and the civil rights of the city’s undocumented immigrant population.

The amended resolution passed by 5-2 vote during an emotionally charged and crowded City Council meeting where a vote on a controversial pay-as-you-throw trash program was tabled to a later date. Most of those in attendance spoke against the trash program.

The resolution for undocumented immigrants that passed on Monday was an amended version of one first presented to the city by the activist group People Power.

The newly-amended version of the resolution was created by Councilor Don Venditto. It eliminates some language -  including any mention of police requiring a judicial warrant before they will detain or hold someone at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The amended resolution, presented to the Council on Monday, does retain some language meant to provide an environment that would allow undocumented immigrants to feel comfortable going to police to report crimes.

Venditto said he was uncomfortable with the original proposal because of the possibility of undue scrutiny of the city by a Trump administration that has threatened to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. He also wanted a resolution that sought to find ways to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented population.

The new version states only that “no city official shall question, arrest, detain or take other law enforcement action against an individual based only upon the individuals perceived race, national origin, religion, or language…”

The backdrop for the vote on the resolution was a crowd of people holding signs reading, “New London Stands with Immigrants.”

Councilor Alma Nartatez said there was no reason for contentiousness over the resolution and it was not something that would protect undocumented criminals.

“This is about civil rights,” Nartatez said. “This is what the resolution speaks to.

In light of rhetoric and what Nartatez called “frightening events,” taking place under the Trump administration, such as the separation of undocumented immigrants from their children, Nartatez said those in opposition to the resolution were “comfortable with attacks on our civil liberties.”

Several people spoke passionately in favor of the original resolution.

Karen Fischer said passing the resolution, “is the least we can do to protect the human rights of our residents.”

An emotional Kris Wraight, who works for Safe Futures, said “it will not only make people feel safer it will make New London safer.”

Wright said because of the policies of the president, undocumented survivors of abuse are not coming forward at the rate they used and refusing to reach out to agencies like Safe Futures out of fear that speaking up could lead to their deportation or separation from their families.

“We need to be a light for residents here,” Wright said. “It is just a first step. Please do not abandon our undocumented residents.”

Along with the resolution, Venditto said he secured a commitment from members of People Power to hold informational meetings for the community to learn about issues facing undocumented immigrants.

Councilors Venditto, Nartatez, Anthony Nolan, Efrain Dominguez and John Satti voted in favor of the resolution. Martin Olsen and Michael Tranchida voted against it.

g.smith@theday.com

 

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