I am proud to have been part of a unanimous vote to give many sanctuary protections to immigrants in the city of Ypsilanti this last Tuesday. Pete Murdock initiated this effort, the mayor and our staff and legal folks worked on research, and language, etc to put it together. The ordinance (no. 1281) keeps all city public servants from inquiring in to the immigrant status of an individual in most situations. This allows undocumented residents to access city services without risk, get a driving ticket without risk, have a voice in our community without risk, etc. There are necessary exceptions; this is not a silver bullet. But it offers some protections to folks who need it desperately.
Many of the people who spoke to council were eloquent and gave personal insight into what life is like for immigrants, both documented and not. One young woman in particular was very moving and spoke of her fear for her friends and family, living day-to-day, always worried, always scared. Good news! Not one person spoke against this ordinance. Not one. That says something wonderful about our community. Something that I am extremely proud of, how we in Ypsilanti honor and respect the values of diversity and inclusion. We don’t always get it right, but we are always working to move in that direction, which again– makes me proud. You should be too.
Council passed this knowing that an effort to pre-empt these local efforts was already being started at the state level. Senate Bill no. 445 (which did not succeed last year but is likely to succeed this year) starts out “A bill to prohibit local units of government from enacting or enforcing any law, ordinance, policy, or rule that limits local officials, officers, or employees from communicating or cooperating with appropriate federal officials concerning the immigration status of individuals…” and goes on from there.
There is some disagreement between our legal team and other cities’ about the impact of such a law on our ordinance. It might or might not make it completely invalid. It will come down to the courts in the end. Either way, council and the city are behind this effort and will likely put in it place in the second reading.
This is a snapshot of what our work is going to be like in this hostile state and national environment on intolerance: anti anybody who is not a white-able bodied-male. We will put in place pieces of the puzzle that will protect our community and values. The state and feds will do what they can to undermine what we enact. Then we will fight to defend our work, our community. Our resources are limited, but our community is strong.
After the vote, I received many messages of thanks for supporting this important ordinance. I was proud, but worried. I did little on this effort. I am proud to be part of a council that is deep enough so that many of us are willing to support work like this, to make Ypsilanti a city that is welcoming, healthy and vibrant, in defiance of the hostile national and state environment we find ourselves immersed in. I am worried because our resources are so limited.
Ypsilanti will need to pull together during the next few years. We will need every single resource we can gather to keep our city strong, vibrant, diverse, and healthy. The state is not going to help us. They have cut our revenue-sharing to the point that that we are bare bones, hanging on by a thread. The feds are not going to help us. 1 hour after Trump took office, Civil Rights were taken down and replaced by Police Advocacy on the Whitehouse.gov website.
Let’s do everything we can to keep our city values and community intact during these next few and hostile years. I am committed. Are you?