[See correction below]
By JOHN T. WARD
Meeting for the first time since hundreds of protesters from both sides of the national immigration debate packed an advisory committee meeting eight days earlier, the council still had nothing in hand to vote upon, Mayor Pasquale Menna told the audience at the governing body’s semimonthly meeting.
“There is nothing before us to consider at this time,” Menna said.
Councilman Mike Whelan, who serves as the council’s liaison to the advisory Human Relations Committee, told redbankgreen beforehand that he expected the HRC’s proposed resolution to be on the agenda for the next council meeting, scheduled for March 22.
“Everybody needs time to read it and digest it,” he said of his fellow council members.
Here’s the document: RBHRC Resolution 022717
Though widely characterized as declaring Red Bank a “sanctuary city,” the HRC’s proposed resolution avoids the term, and instead calls for town officials to “monitor and challenge” any costs arising from federal efforts to find and deport undocumented aliens.
The proposal was carefully worded so that the borough would not be “in any way be defiant of federal law, so we don’t lose federal funding,” HRC chairman David Pascale told a standing-room-only crowd month.
Under a January 25 executive order, the Trump administration said it would curtail funding to sanctuary cities for promising to shield unauthorized immigrants from federal deportations.
The resolution also echoes the borough’s declaration, almost a decade ago, that it is an “inclusive community,” as noted on a sign in Veteran’s Park, the triangle at West Front Street and Riverside Avenue.
Whelan, a Republican who’s running for a New Jersey Assembly seat after just 14 months on the council, told redbankgreen he believes a new council resolution on the matter is unnecessary.
“We’re already an inclusive city,” he said, “so what’s the resolution really doing? We’re just reaffirming that we’re an inclusive city.”
Borough police, he said, continue to comply with a 2007 state Attorney General’s directive on when local law enforcement should inquire about a person’s immigration status.
“Red Bank’s procedure is not to find a mother of four and report her to ICE,” said Whelan, who serves as police commissioner.
Passage of the suggested resolution, he said, might offer “false hope to people that we are a sanctuary city.”
Despite its absence from the agenda, several members of the public addressed the HRC resolution during the meeting’s comment section.
Keith May of Spinnaker Lane advised the council to be cautious about taking action. “I don’t think we can afford this,” he said.
Leo Christofili of Shady Oaks, in Middletown, told the council that “local government is not competent to get involved in immigration.” [CORRECTION, March 23, 2017: Christofili says this comment was mistakenly attributed to him, when in fact he was quoting, verbatim, remarks previously reported by the Asbury Park Press to have been made by Menna. redbankgreen regrets the error.]