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RED BANK: SANCTUARY CITY STATUS ON TABLE

inclusive-sign-500x375-2032361A sign installed by the Human Relations Committee in Veteran’s Park at Riverside Avenue and West Front Street in 2011. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-2130637Even as President Donald Trump threatens to cut federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” across America, Red Bank may adopt the designation, redbankgreen has learned.

In response to requests by residents, the borough’s Human Relations Committee is expected to discuss the issue later this month, said Chairman David Pascale.

According to an American Civil Liberties Union official quoted by NJ.com, there’s no official definition of “sanctuary” cities and towns, which a January 25 executive order by Trump would strip of funding because of their avowals to protect unauthorized immigrants from federal action.

Officials in self-designated sanctuary cities and towns in New Jersey “say they will not capitulate to the president’s threat to use the power of the purse to punish them for providing safe havens to undocumented immigrants,” according to a report published Monday by NJ Spotlight.

More from that report:

Municipal officials in such “sanctuary cities” as Newark, Jersey City, Princeton, and other towns limit their interaction with federal immigration officials and refuse to allow their police forces to be deputized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. They say they will continue to resist federal efforts to force their cooperation because it would make policing their communities more difficult and could endanger local health and the economy by making immigrants fearful of government.

In response to an inquiry on the issue by redbankgreen, Pascale sent the following statement:

In light of the recent announcements by the President’s Administration to “Build a Wall,” impose a “Travel Ban” and what seems to be growing apprehension among residents from all backgrounds in Red Bank, the Red Bank Human Relations Advisory Committee and Members of Council have received numerous requests to provide a response to these concerns especially as it pertains to the undocumented residents of Red Bank. During the past year, the HRAC committee has reached out and worked with many organizations in town that support all the minority communities of Red Bank. We have created both Twitter and Facebook accounts via @RedBankHRAC in which we look to share and amplify our vision of inclusivity for the many diverse and multi-cultural residents who live in Red Bank.

One such notable group are the “Dreamers +” of Brookdale Community College who have reached out specifically for our support and guidance.

First and foremost, the Red Bank HRAC is committed to upholding its core beliefs that are best expressed by the Red Bank Diversity Statement, set to a Resolution in 2011. This statement reads: “Diversity, when it is accepted and respected, is a tremendous strength and asset for any community. It encompasses an understanding that each individual is unique and valuable to the welfare of the community. It recognizes and celebrates the differences amongst individuals, and capitalizes on the strengths resulting from these differences. Diversity works best when a community explores these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. The Human Relations Advisory Committee of Red Bank, NJ, in an effort to set an example for inclusivity, adopts the broadest definition of diversity with the following statement: The dimensions of diversity shall include, but are not limited to the following: race, ethnicity, religious belief, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, disability, socioeconomic status, cultural orientation, physical abilities, political beliefs, age, and national origin and status.”

At this juncture in Red Banks history, we might consider how creating a resolution could help all those impacted by it. Many concerned residents have reached out to us in support of our more vulnerable populations and we have a commitment to listen and address these concerns. Here are just a few who wrote to us via [email protected]

Elizabeth  D. wrote:  “A recent study published by the Center for American Progress states: “Altogether, the data suggest that when local law enforcement focuses on keeping communities safe, rather than becoming entangled in federal immigration enforcement efforts, communities are safer and community members stay more engaged in the local economy. This in turn brings benefits to individual households, communities, counties, and the economy as a whole.”

John T. wrote:  “I am a life-long Monmouth County resident and a frequent visitor to Red Bank.  One of my favorite things about Red Bank is that it’s host to a vibrant, friendly, and diverse community that’s richly colored it’s food, music, and style. Red Bank is the wonderful city it is because of its culture and residents. I urge you to pass a Sanctuary Town Resolution and protect the community that makes Red Bank great!”

Ellen B. writes: “Immigrants arrive here to make better lives for themselves and their families and generally do so through hard work and are escaping discrimination and worse. Please designate Red Bank a safe haven against oppression and fear.”

Wes B. wrote: “I’m a Monmouth county resident and native. I was born in Riverview and I wish to see Red Bank designated a sanctuary for the Latino and Muslim communities. The thriving Latino population of Red Bank is one of its strongest attributes and I don’t to see any of those families displaced.”

Allyson D. wrote: “We see our fellow citizens working hard to keep our restaurants running, to support their families, and bring culture and vibrancy to a town in need of diversification.” “If Red Bank were to do this, other towns would soon follow by example.”

Anne F. wrote: “As a resident, I am concerned for my friends and neighbors. The recent push against our immigrant communities has created a sense of dread and anxiety within me. I know that for my neighbors and the children my sons play with, this feeling of fear is overwhelming. While I am not an expert in the process for declaring oneself a sanctuary city, I am more than willing to commit my time to this effort. I live in Red Bank because of the diversity of our town, and I choose to send my students to the public schools because I know that they will be prepared to navigate their way through a global society. We must communicate to all our families that they are safe in Red Bank and that we have their back.”

Laura M wrote: “As a local educator who frequently works with students from every town in Monmouth County, and as a person who frequents Red Bank businesses and contributes to its commerce, I ask you to consider passing a resolution to declare Red Bank a Sanctuary Town. The diversity of our local communities is part of the health and vitality of this county, and none of our families and students should be made to feel afraid based on any identity variable including race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, country of origin, or documentation status. In my teaching and personally, I have met people who are feeling threatened by the current political climate. Please make a declaration that supports human dignity for all.”

The Red Bank HRAC and Council members will begin a discussion on how best to approach this request from our residents and what type of Resolution would best represent Red Bank.  Please stay tuned for updates and information regarding this effort!

In order for an official designation, the borough council would have to adopt a resolution identifying Red Bank as a sanctuary town or city.

The Human Relations Committee’s next scheduled meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 27, at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. In order for

 

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