Madison Alder Shiva Bidar has introduced a measure to codify the City of Madison as a safe haven for immigrants.
The proposal, which will be introduced and voted on at the Madison Common Council’s February 7 meeting, comes after President Donald J. Trump has signed an executive order aimed at eliminating so-called “sanctuary cities,” municipalities that have adopted a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants by not turning them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
The executive order would fulfill one of Trump’s signature campaign promises: forcing police in major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to work more closely with immigration officials. Failing to cooperate would result in cuts from federal funding.
Despite Trump’s threats to take away federal funding, Bidar is not going to give it. “I’m not going to back down. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I am not going to back down,” Bidar said. “I’m not going to back down because the more threats there are, the more we’ll actually have to demonstrate that they cannot influence our values.”
Bidar says diversity is one of Madison’s greatest strengths and complying with President Trump’s executive order will only hurt the immigrant community.
Bidar’s proposal would designate the City of Madison Common Council Office as a safe space, where all residents may enter and will be safe and protected. The proposal also limits communication between the City of Madison and ICE; restricts the spending of City funds on immigration enforcement actions; prohibits City agencies from denying City services based on immigration status; makes clear that city officials, like the police, will not ask or disclose someone’s immigration status unless the person has committed a felony, among other things.
“I think it (the proposal) will send a very clear message. Not only send a message about where we stand, it also strengthens the (immigrant friendly) policies we’ve had up to now,” Bidar said.
Bidar said that as of Tuesday morning, Alders Larry Palm, Tim Gruber, Maurice Cheeks, Mark Clear, Marsha Rummel, Sara Eskrich and Matt Phair had signed on as co-sponsors, with more co-sponsors expected.
Earlier in the week, Mayor Paul Soglin said the City of Madison “will not waver” in its commitment not to use local law enforcement for federal immigration enforcement. Police Chief Mike Koval his similarly reaffirmed in public statements, and his official blog, his commitment that Madison Police “are not an enforcement arm of the federal government when it comes to immigration issues. We do not participate in a program which functionally “deputizes” our officers as federal agents. We do not use our lawful authority to stop, detain, or arrest individuals on the pretext of looking for undocumented immigrants. We do not ask or check for proof of citizenship. And we do not cooperate in federal investigations whose only objective is to round up people who are undocumented.”
Bidar’s proposal will be considered and voted on at the February 7 meeting of the Common Council, which takes place at 6:30 pm at the City County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Boulevard.