Newark Mayor says cops not ‘immigrant slave catchers’ in his sanctuary city
NEWARK — Despite threats that federal funding could be cut for municipalities declaring themselves "sanctuary cities," Mayor Ras Baraka signed an extensive executive order Monday defying those threats, embracing a part of the population he says needs the government's help and protection.
The 10-page order provides details on Baraka's plans, including how the city's law enforcement will handle potential immigration issues.
"Fair and welcoming policies make communities safer for citizens and undocumented immigrants like," he said. "We will continue to stand by those communities who are most vulnerable and push back against the Trump administration's attacks on immigrants."
Baraka said it was not up to the Newark Police Department to "enforce immigration law. It is to protect and serve our residents."
"Our municipal agencies will not function as immigrant slave catchers," he said. "They will provide effective, efficient, professional, and compassionate services to our residents. Our housing, health, and other code enforcement officers will not act as inquisitors or secret policemen. They will ensure the safety of our residents."
A statement from Baraka noted that all city residents have been eligible to receive ID cards, which they can use to access various services. The statement also said that city employees do not ask about a person's immigration status when providing assistance.
The new directive says the city won't help ICE or other immigration entities "unless those requests come through valid judicial warrants." City employees, including police officers, will also be directed to not ask about a person's immigration status unless directed to do so by state or federal law, or a court order, according to the statement.
All city residents will also have all essential services available to them regardless of their immigration status, and without having to worry about being asked about their status, Baraka said. The city's webpage will also be regularly updated with the latest requests for municipal help from ICE and other entities on a quarterly basis.
Baraka also announced the formation of a "Fair and Welcoming City Commission," which he said will make sure the policies in the order are implemented and make sure all residents have access to the services they need whether they are in the country illegally or not.
In his January appearance on Ask the Governor, Gov. Chris Christie warned mayors, including Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop to not question the president's "resolve" about to block federal funding from sanctuary cities.
There is no formal definition for "sanctuary city," but the term is used broadly to apply to those communities that do not honor ICE detainer requests or otherwise cooperate with immigration officials in non-mandatory ways.
“I think that elected officials can’t be allowed to pick and chose the laws they wish to comply with,” Christie said. “And if they are not going to change I can guarantee them something: Donald Trump is going to take away their funding.”
A federal judge has blocked an executive order President Donald Trump issued seeking to cut funding to sanctuary cities.
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