A rose by any other name: Randall Woodfin rejects “sanctuary city” label for “welcoming city” instead

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Advocates for sanctuary cities have been trying for several years to get Birmingham officials to officially designate the city as such. Last year, Birmingham City Councilman Jonathan Austin led the city council in passing a resolution declaring the city a sanctuary city and then there was a tweet from the city that received a lot of attention but formally it’s never been on the list of cities kept by immigration groups.

Tweets from City of Birmingham

At the end of July, Alabama Today reported, that “the Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Alabama), the state’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, and Adelante Alabama Workers Center, which unites day laborers, domestic workers, and other low-wage and immigrant workers and their families in the Birmingham area, along with other coalition partners, faith and civic leaders, met outside of the Birmingham City Hall where they called on Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin to honor his commitment to be on the front lines of resistance to President Donald Trump‘s polices.

There they endeavored to hold the Mayor to the progressive mandate he was elected on by calling him to take action on the proposed “Trust and Public Safety” order.”
This was not the first time Woodfin has been asked to commit to giving Birmingham the sanctuary city title, even as a candidate he was asked to commit to making Birmingham one. At a filming of NPR’s “Code Switch” it seems he has finally publicly closed the door on that according to transcripts saying, “I think sanctuary city is narrowly tailored and isolated towards don’t have your police enforce certain things of rounding up and hurting people, which I agree with. We’re not going to do that. But welcoming cities is more broad about, how do we help our immigrant community? And as I go to Birmingham city schools, I can tell you our immigrant community continues to grow. So it’s – for me it has a broader positive impact, whereas sanctuary is don’t do this. Welcoming is, this is what we’re going to do.”
What exactly is a “Welcoming City?”
Well according to their website, “Welcoming Cities are guided by the principles of inclusion and creating communities that prosper because everyone feels welcome, including immigrants and refugees.” According to the group promoting welcoming cities pledge some cities choose to be both sanctuary-cities and welcoming but not all.
There you have it. He’s not going to make Birmingham a “sanctuary city.”
Does that mean that residents can rest easy knowing that the police will be making sure that illegal immigrants who may be committing additional crimes besides just residing in our nation illegally are properly checked out? No. Woodfin was clear that police would not be checking the status of immigrants with ICE or reporting immigrant arrest or crimes to them. After all, that wouldn’t be very welcoming would it?
So what happens when a member of a foreign gang here illegally is arrested or pulled over in Birmingham? Well they can get bailed out and disappear into the night because heaven knows we that’s the kind thing to do. What happens when the immigrant who has overstayed their work or school visa and is stopped and police recognize that they’re not here legally? Nothing more than would happen to someone here legally. Pesky law makers and federal law enforcement can’t expect the Birmingham Police to be bothered helping them catch human traffickers, identity thieves or drug smugglers that would just be downright inhospitable.
Woodfin and illegal immigration proponents would say that’s kind and compassionate but how is that kind to those waiting to get into the country legally? How is it compassionate towards those who have lost their lives or their identities to illegal immigrants?
It’s out of fairness for the doctor at UAB from out of the country or engineer at one of the new high-tech companies who went through the legal avenues for citizenship that the illegal folks get to stay too.
Just this week in Jasper an illegal immigrant attempted to abduct a woman. If that happened here in Birmingham then Mayor Woodfin says his police department wouldn’t alert ICE to the immigrants arrest and location. How’s that for ridding our city of crime or making it more enticing to businesses?
It’s a logical cop-out to accuse those who are opposed to illegal immigration of being against immigrants. Leave it to those who support open borders and blanket mass amnesty to say that those who did things the right way should be lumped in with those who are breaking the law. Many who are here and working are using fake or stole identities. Don’t believe this is an issue for cities all over the nation, just read some of the latest cases brought by ICE.
So Woodfin would have you believe all immigrants deserve the same level of respect and protections regardless of legal status at least he’s stopped hedging his bets. He may get to say he’s not for sanctuary cities but so long as he has his police department turn a blind eye towards illegal immigrants and their presence here he might as well be.
Full immigration section of NPR transcript below:

MERAJI: President Trump has a zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration. We know this. And we also know that here in Birmingham, you’ve gotten a little bit of criticism from the immigrants’ rights community…

WOODFIN: I have.

MERAJI: …Because they really want you to sign an executive order to basically put in writing that you won’t use your city’s resources for immigration enforcement, that you won’t use your city’s resources to surveil Muslim residents. Can you respond to that criticism?

WOODFIN: First thing is this – is that I’m not. Like, we’re not going to use our police to do anything around what I call rounding up people. We just don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in that as mayor. I’ve had a clear, direct conversation with my police chief. I’ve had a clear and direct conversation with my chief of our city jail. We’re not in that business.

MERAJI: So they’re not going to ask…

(APPLAUSE)

MERAJI: …People their immigration status?

WOODFIN: No. No. We’re not going to do that. I believe in welcoming cities. That is something that we are past exploring. That is something we’re going to actually do. They put a paper in my hand and said, sign it. That’s not how I necessarily govern. I read it. I turned it over to my legal department. But I also turned over to my legal department welcoming cities. And when we look at both of those, I think not only protecting our immigrant community but making sure we do things beyond ICE is important.

MERAJI: Welcoming cities – what do you mean by that? What’s the discrepancy between the two things because you were talking about there’s these two things?

WOODFIN: I think sanctuary city is narrowly tailored and isolated towards don’t have your police enforce certain things of rounding up and hurting people, which I agree with. We’re not going to do that. But welcoming cities is more broad about, how do we help our immigrant community? And as I go to Birmingham city schools, I can tell you our immigrant community continues to grow. So it’s – for me it has a broader positive impact, whereas sanctuary is don’t do this. Welcoming is, this is what we’re going to do.

DEMBY: I want to ask a clarifying question, too. You mentioned that you’ve said to immigrants’ rights groups that you would not enable ICE through the police force there.

WOODFIN: That’s correct.

DEMBY: But you would not codify that?

WOODFIN: They want me to codify it in signing sanctuary. I’m going to do welcoming cities.

 

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