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City Council urges humane treatment of immigrants

Fort Collins City Council passed a resolution imploring President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress to prevent inhumane treatment of immigrants at the southern border, reunite immigrant families and create a sustainable pathway for immigration.

The resolution also reaffirms the City’s commitment to make sure immigrants feel safe to engage with government authorities.

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After a brief debate, Councilmember Ken Summers was the only one to reject the resolution. 

The resolution acknowledges the “potential humanitarian issues” along the U.S.-Mexico border, “particularly concerning children being separated from their families and the conditions in which they are being held in separation” and the fear the federal issues create in the Fort Collins immigrant community. 

“(We’re) calling on our legislative branch and our executive branch to put forward solutions that address the issue, and right now, through dysfunction of all sorts, that’s not happening,” Mayor Wade Troxell said. “I think it only illustrates to me where the issue is, and it’s at a federal level.”

Council’s declaration comes after months of residents calling for Council to denounce the migrant detention camps and family separation policies of the Trump administration. 

There are a lot of immigrants in this community, I think more than people realize. And I feel like this would help them a lot, frankly, just by recognizing them”-Daniel Scott, Fort Collins resident

For Fort Collins, such treatment from federal forces has translated into stress and fear for local immigrants and their families, said Deirdre Sullivan, executive director of La Familia, a childcare and supportive services center focused on the Latinx community. 

Daniel Scott, a resident and first-generation Mexican-American immigrant, said this resolution was extremely important for people who are working to integrate with the community. 

“There are a lot of immigrants in this community, I think more than people realize,” Scott said. “And I feel like this would help them a lot, frankly, just by recognizing them.”

What the resolution says

The resolution includes local intentions to support immigrant communities.

The resolution:

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  1. Fosters a community welcoming to those lawfully seeking asylum in the U.S. and reaffirms that the City “welcomes and celebrates immigrants and their role in our City’s history and in the greater fabric and history of the United States.”
  2. Encourages all residents to report crimes regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin or immigration status. (In 2017, Council passed a Community Trust Initiative which disallows City employees to ask about citizenship status unless required by state or federal law.)
  3. Encourages all residents to participate in the 2020 census so the City population will be counted accurately.

Several sections also outline calls for federal action from City Council.

The resolution:

  1. Calls for Trump and Congress to prevent inhumane treatment of persons, particularly minors, at the southern border, and quickly reunify immigrant families through any reasonable means.
  2. Urges Trump and Congress to create a sustainable pathway for immigration into the United States, especially for those who fear for their lives or safety.  
  3. Directs the City manager to include consistent measures to the City’s Legislative Policy Agenda to be presented to the Legislative Review Committee.

Additionally, members of Council who are participating in upcoming meetings with members of the Colorado congressional delegation will urge those members of Congress to take action on immigration as well. 

Debate over local or national action

Summers, the lone dissenting voice, at first introduced an amendment to the resolution to specify what actions individual Fort Collins and Colorado federal representatives, such as Congressman Joe Neguse, were doing for immigration reform because “It’s prudent for us to recognize what our local congressional members and individuals are doing on the national level to address these concerns.”

After the other councilmembers disagreed with the need to call out individual names, Summers withdrew the amendment. He then proposed another amendment, this time to remove the sections that call on federal authorities to take action. 

“There’s so many issues when it comes to the southern border; just saying ‘well fix it’ (to federal leaders), doesn’t add value to the conversation,” Summers said. 

Summers said he cares about the community, so he would prefer Council to take action locally instead of putting the responsibility on those in Washington D.C. 

“We need to be concerned about those who are in our community,” Summers said. “That’s our responsibility. What are we going to do about it?”

Other councilmembers said Council is offering support through a resolution addressing the federal problem. 

“I would argue that the reason that people don’t feel comfortable is because of all this federal policy confusion and inability to act on pathways to citizenship,” said Kristin Stephens, mayor pro tem.

She said that a bold statement to remind federal leadership of how their actions are hurting local communities in a daily and personal way is not a bad thing. 

“You may see it as a fool’s errand,” Stephens said, addressing Summers. “But I see it as my duty as a person who represents this community and as a citizen to call on the national government, to hold them accountable for years of bad policy on immigration that have led to a real crisis.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.

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