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04/3/2017 | Connecting Elected Officials for ‘Local Progress’

Sanctuary Cities Join Forces in First Meeting of Its Kind

On Monday, March 27, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated Trump’s threats to cut funding to sanctuary cities, local elected officials from across the country gathered to plan how we can fight back together.

Seeking Sanctuary: Municipal Policy to Confront Mass Deportation and Criminalization, a national convening hosted by Local Progress, Center for Popular Democracy, and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito brought together elected officials from 30 cities and counties across the country to share policy innovations, litigation strategies, and ways in which local leaders can disrupt Trump's deportation policies.

In conjunction with the gathering, we released a practical toolkit, including sample language for local legislation, for policy makers and advocates advancing policies to keep families together.

The two-day #SeekingSanctuary convening covered a range of policies to fight unconstitutional attempts to separate immigrant families, including: Policies to ensure that local law enforcement agents are not being coopted to enforce unjust and unconstitutional deportation mandates. For more details on these policies, check out our toolkit.

Programs providing access to counsel. Participants toured and learned about New York City’s innovative New York Immigrant Family Unity Program, which provides legal counsel to immigrants facing deportations and increases the chances they will win their case by over 1,000 percent. San Francisco and Chicago have also recently increased their financial commitment to providing representation to immigrants facing deportation.

Criminal justice reforms like Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program which minimize the risk of immigrants being swept into the broken criminal justice system, and put at risk for deportation, based on minor offenses.

We heard from Santa Clara Board President David Cortese and Supervisor Cindy Chavez about the county’s lawsuit against Trump’s unconstitutional executive order threatening funding to sanctuary cities, which has been joined by over forty cities and counties across the country, Commissioner Chuy Garcia and Councilmember Carlos Ramirez Rosa about the tragic impacts of aggressive ICE raids in Chicago and from Austin Councilmember Greg Casar about the impact of state level threats, which have already resulted in Austin losing $1.5m in state funding and include a bill that threatens to criminalize local elected officials from office for refusing co-option of local resources by ICE. And we were joined by dozens of legal experts, community organizers and policy wonks who discussed how elected officials are a part of a national movement to fight back together against the unjust and unconstitutional anti-immigrant policies of this administration.

The event was covered by NBC News, The Huffington Post, Democracy Now, Telemundo and dozens of other national and local outlets.

This event was made possible through a partnership with New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and with funding from the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation and the Latino Victory Foundation.