To: Mayor Marti Shamberger
Tell Morgantown Mayor Shamberger and West Virginia University: Defend Morgantown & Expand Sanctuary
Tell Morgantown Mayor Marti Shamberger, the Morgantown City Council, and West Virginia University to stand up to President Trump and take action that doesn't just symbolically defend immigrants and refugees but transforms our university and city's policies to stop targeting immigrants for imprisonment, risk of removal, and state violence at the hands of police and aggressive immigration agents.
To Morgantown Mayor Shamberger and the Morgantown City Council: In 2014, the city of Boston passed the Trust Act: legislation that prohibits Boston police from detaining anyone based on their immigration status unless they have a criminal warrant. Morgantown could--should--follow that example. We must make it clear that we are committed to protecting our immigrant residents. In the spirit of the campaign launched in our state last year, "all kinds are welcome here."
According to Article 153, Section 01 of the Administritative Code of the City Code of Morgantown,
"In order to build an inclusive community, the City will dedicate deliberate and continuous attention to the human relations and human rights of its residents and visitors. [...] This City policy is based on the recognition and vision that the diversity found in our city brings forth richness in our community, a greater understanding of our world, a multitude of talent to benefit collective needs, and an opportunity for enhanced living and learning for all. Inherent in this policy is a commitment to encourage and endeavor to bring about equal opportunity, mutual understanding and respect for persons of all ages, abilities, ancestry, blindness, color, disability or handicap, ethnicities, familial status, national origins, sex, sexual orientations, races, religion and other backgrounds or orientations."
It is the City Council's responsibility to abide by, enforce, and encourage the City Code. To build this inclusive community, we must take further action on the local-level to support our Morgantown neighbors and better ensure the safety of our immigrant and refugee community.
To West Virginia University Administration and Policy Makers: In the wake of recent executive orders from President Trump and increased fear and uncertainity in our community, we call on you to stand with other colleges and universities and take concrete action to support and protect WVU students and staff. It is imperative you implement a plan to keep our a sanctuary for undocumented and DACA-registered students, staff, and their families who may face deportation.
On January 28th, the University of Michigan made a promise to their students and staff by releasing a public statement (found here: http://president.umich.edu/news-communications/on-the-agenda/protecting-the-interests-of-our-international-community-of-scholars/) that sends a loud and powerful message: "The University of Michigan welcomes and supports students without regard to their immigration status. We will continue to admit students in a manner consistent with our non-discrimination policy. Once students are admitted, the university is committed to fostering an environment in which each student can flourish."
West Virginia University would do well in following suit.
In accordance to the vision and values outlined by the WVU's Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, "West Virginia University will be known for honoring the worth of every individual, and sustaining an environment where all people are encouraged to achieve their full potential. [...] West Virginia University is committed to the inclusion of all socioeconomic groups, traditional and non-traditional students, volunteers, the extended academic community, and society;" and, "every campus, college, and administrative unit will continually examine itself and identify ways of assuring that a comprehensive approach to achieving social justice is attained and sustained."
The following policy actions would go far in assuring WVU's commitment to its students and staff:
- Do not allow ICE to come on campus to do immigration enforcement without warrents unless there is an exigent circumstance.
- Do not allow the university police force to act on behalf of federal agents to enforce immigration laws.
- Do not share immigration status of students or staff with ICE.
These actions will honor WVU's statement to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and send a message to our students and staff: you are welcome here.
To all: If you recall sitting in a grade school history course reflecting, "If I were alive then, I would have done..." in regard to past atrocities, that time is now. Our actions define us.
Why is this important?
Donald Trump announced executive action on January 25th that threatens cities seeking to protect immigrant residents from deportation. The order issued on Wednesday claims sanctuary cities--jurisdictions that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants--“willfully violate federal law” causing “immeasurable harm to the American people.” This action works to force compliance with federal immigration agencies in a bid to ramp up deportations.
On January 27th, President Trump overhauled US refugee policy banning all immigrants and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days. It also bans all refugee admissions for 120 days — and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. Limiting access to the United States from those fleeing from safety--from Central and South America to the Middle East--is a humanitarian responsibility. America is turning its back on the rest of the world; we have to rally against it.
In 2017, it’s the efforts to defend Black lives and protect migrant rights that make our cities safer, not President Trump’s extra enforcement promises. To keep us safe, we need to evolve our local policies to make our city a real sanctuary for all residents--not cancel them because of the President's latest actions. This means a commitment to separating police from federal immigration enforcement AND addressing the policing that funnels Black and other residents to jail and places criminal charges on immigrant residents, making them a target for ICE agents.
Join me in telling Mayor Marti Shamberger and the Morgantown City Council to stand up to President Trump and take action that doesn't just symbolically defend immigrants, but transforms our city's policies to stop targeting residents for imprisonment, risk of removal, and state violence at the hands of police and aggressive immigration agents.
The President's threats should be cause to embolden our city and university leaders, students, and residents, not an excuse to abandon our potential progress.