Alarmed by President Trump’s executive orders to defund so-called “sanctuary cities” and begin construction of a wall on the nation’s southern border, a group of elected officials and nonprofit leaders on Wednesday pledged resist the administration’s targeting of immigrants.
A separation ordinance restricting city employees’ ability to inquire about people’s immigration status has been on Minneapolis’ books for more than a decade, but Trump is now threatening to withhold federal funds from municipalities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. On Wednesday, joining elected officials and nonprofit leaders from around the state in an impromptu press conference at the state Capitol, Mayor Betsy Hodges pledged the separation ordinance “will stand in the city of Minneapolis as long as I am mayor.”
“We have a separation ordinance in the City of Minneapolis because it makes our city safer,” Hodges said. She said Minneapolis residents who fear having their immigration status questioned would hesitate to contact police or fire in an emergency or cooperate with local authorities.
Hodges said the potential loss of federal funding “is a big problem” for the city, and one that will need to be addressed. But she said it was a “bigger problem if our democracy comes tumbling down around our ears,” which she said would happen if Minneapolis gave into Trump’s “threats.”
“You can take the money. You will never take our people,” said City Council Member Alondra Cano, the daughter of immigrants and the first Mexican-American to serve on the council. “We will never let go of those families that raised us, the people that make our city our state and our nation strong.”
State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray said Trump’s plans to build a border wall — at a cost likely to soar into the billions — was a distraction from more important policy issues, like access to education and healthcare.
“We are together and we are going to fight together against this,” Torres Ray said.
An aide to Congressman Keith Ellison read a letter from the representative, who said he’d already been contacted by a family living in the 5th District who were waiting for relatives to emigrate from Somalia, one of seven Middle Eastern and African countries targeted by the Trump administration with a temporary ban on refugees.
“These orders are already hurting our country,” Ellison wrote.
State Rep. Ilhan Omar said there was a “particular irony” to Trump’s executive order targeting refugees, because they are fleeing home countries where “they’re living in fear” in hopes of finding safety, stability and a new life in a democratic society.
“The refugees of today are not that far (or) different from the refugees of yesterday,” Omar said, noting Trump’s “great-grandparents were immigrants, themselves.”
Omar invited Trump to visit Minneapolis to see “the life we’re building here.”