Lawmakers defended the status of Washington, D.C., as a sanctuary city at a public hearing Thursday discussing a bill that would ban immigration raids in the city.
Council Member Brianne Nadeau, the representative for the District’s Ward 1, introduced legislation in April banning immigration raids and other attempts in the city to enforce federal law. The bill would further solidify the District’s status as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. Nadeau said federal immigration raids “jeopardize residents’ privacy, safety, and security,” according to WJLA.
Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a statement Monday reaffirming that the District is a sanctuary city, arguing it “makes our neighborhoods safer.”
“It really doesn’t matter if they have papers or not, because they are human beings and they have rights,” Alicia Wilson, executive director of La Clinica Del Pueblo, told WJLA. “The raids raised the fear and anxiety level to tremendous spikes in our community.”
Many residents from the city’s community of immigrants attended the hearing to express fear over their futures in the country. Angry protesters confronted Bowser Thursday morning at a community meeting and lambasted her over the issue, despite her statement Monday, reports FOX5.
“Your anger should not be addressed at your mayor because your mayor has stood up in every case for this community – period,” Bowser told the protesters. “I have asserted firmly that we are a sanctuary city and our policies are clear.”
President-elect Donald Trump is promising to cut federal funding to any cities in the U.S. that do not adhere to federal immigration laws. The position of Bowser and the D.C. Council puts the mayor and city at odds with the incoming administration and could lead to a budget showdown soon after inauguration.
The District does not currently honor federal deportation warrants. A person’s immigration status is also never checked by authorities in the District in the event of an arrest, regardless of the seriousness of the crime committed.
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