Newark mayor signs sweeping sanctuary city executive order

 Posted on June 19, 2017

Newark Mayor Ras signs executive order outlining the city's "sanctuary city" policy on June 19, 2017.

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NEWARK -- Mayor Ras Baraka signed what is the city's most sweeping declaration yet to protect undocumented residents against President Donald Trump's federal immigration policies.

Surrounded by city council members and advocacy groups, Baraka signed a detailed 10-page executive order on Monday that cements Newark's sanctuary city policy, despite the possible loss of federal funds in response. 

The order pledges that the city will not spend local resources aiding federal immigration law unless required by a court order or directive, a promise Baraka made in November.

"This is an opportunity to make Newark a fair and welcoming city," Baraka said. "To make the community safer for citizens that documented and undocumented alike."

Among its 16 key points, the order also bars police and other municipal employees from investigating residents' citizenship status, coercing individuals to report family members and sharing personal information about a person's national origin.

The city will begin publishing quarterly reports on its website including the number of ICE detainer requests and raids that require local police assistance. By September, a Fair and Welcoming City Commission will be established to provide translation services and legal representation to Newark immigrants.  

Newark already does more than most cities to protect those residing in the country illegally. Since 2015, all residents are given municipal ID cards for access to state, city, financial and cultural services.

Trump's Jan. 25 executive order, which aimed to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities, faced a blow in April when a judge partially blocked it

But Baraka said the administration's vow to pull funding from sanctuary cities is "really not a threat at all" in the face of Trump's looming budget policy, which cuts a number of social programs. 

"(Trump's) budget policy seeks to cut the very things that he's threatening to take away anyway, so it's almost useless for us to take that as a threat," Baraka said. 

City officials said the White House is already threatening grants totaling a few million dollars.

"I don't know why we'd be punished and our money would be held up or taken away," Anthony Ambrose, Newark's director of public safety, said.

The White House's order has found fierce push-back from Baraka as well as other New Jersey mayors, who promise to only arrest undocumented immigrants who engage in criminal activities. 

Baraka's declaration comes a month after undocumented immigrant Arino Massie, of Metuchen, was deported to Indonesia after living in America for 16 years. Dozens rallied outside the Elizabeth Detention Center in support of Massie, who left behind his 13-year-old son and and wife. 

"We believe that we are right. And the fact that we believe we are right gives us the strength to continue forward regardless of any threat from the federal government," Baraka said. 

The order coincides with Immigrant Heritage Month, celebrated every June nationwide since 2014. Organizations involved in Newark's latest initiative include: NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice, 32BJ SEIU, Make The Road, ACLU and NJ Working Families.

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