While Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith is working toward the extension of domestic partner benefits, Councilman Cecil Bothwell is moving forward on his ideas to make Asheville safer, for citizens and non-citizens alike.
Bothwell is proposing Asheville become a “Sanctuary City,” in which local police do not enforce federal immigration law. According to the councilman, police chiefs in Raleigh and cary have endorsed the idea, as well as the former police chief of Los Angeles.
The goal, Bothwell says, is to make immigrant communities more comfortable with the police.
“A study by the Police Foundation has shown that cities where local police do not enforce federal immigration law are safer because immigrants trust the police,” he says. “In addition, use of local police to enforce federal law is an unfunded mandate. It’s better for us to use our resources on local public safety than to address a problem that is international in scope.”
Bothwell has drafted a proposed resolution on the matter, which he’ll discuss on the city’s Public Safety Committee. He says he’ll also present it to the Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council. The text of the resolution is below:
CITY OF ASHEVILLE CIVIL LIBERTIES RESOLUTION
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville affirms its strong support for the fundamental constitutional rights of every person and recognizes that the preservation of civil liberties is essential to the well-being of a democratic society; and the City of Asheville is proud of its long and distinguished tradition of protecting the civil liberties and affording equal protection of the law to all persons in the City, who include a diverse population of many races, religions, and national and ethnic origins, including immigrants, tourists and students, whose contributions to the community’s economy, culture and civic character are vast and important;
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville opposes measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious or political opinion or activity, or immigration status.
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville opposes any efforts to transfer federal immigration responsibility to state and local officials, since these proposals tax our already overburdened police department and damage relationships with immigrant communities; criminalizing U.S. citizens, those who work with and for immigrants and immigrants themselves, is not a viable long-term solution to concerns over immigration and will continue separating families while preventing civic participation by all persons;
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville believes that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty but that Americans can be both safe and free;
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville wishes to play a leading role in the protection of civil liberties and to consistently promote tolerance and respect for all persons, immigrants, visitors, students, and citizens alike, and recognizes that a number of other jurisdictions in North Carolina and in the United States have enacted policies or laws to protect the civil liberties of all persons regardless of race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious or political opinion or activity, or immigration status.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY OF ASHEVILLE that:
Section 1. The City of Asheville upholds the constitutional rights and civil liberties of any and all persons and it is the policy of the City of Asheville to protect against discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious or political opinion or activity, or immigration status.
Section 2. City of Asheville officers and employees shall refrain from racial profiling, or using race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious or political opinion or activity, or immigration status as a factor in selecting individuals, check points or areas of town to subject to investigatory activities;
Section 3. City of Asheville officers and employees shall refrain from engaging in the videotaping or other surveillance of individuals or groups based on their participation in protected activities such as the practice of religion or political advocacy;
Section 4. City of Asheville officers and employees shall refrain from collecting or maintaining information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership unless said information is directly related to an investigation of criminal conduct that is based on reasonable suspicion.
Section 5. City of Asheville officers and employees shall refrain from participating in the enforcement of federal immigration laws or initiatives such as the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), that encourage members of the general public to spy on their neighbors, colleagues and customers, or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that drive a wedge between the immigrant community and the local police who need to protect the welfare of all our residents; no department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City of Asheville shall use City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, or to gather, use or disseminate the immigration status information of individuals in the City of Asheville.
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the provisions of this Resolution shall be severable, and if any provision of this Resolution is declared unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, the validity of the remainder shall not be affected.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution shall be forwarded to all City of Asheville law enforcement agencies and to every department, agency, commission, officer and employee of the City of Asheville and to our local, state and federal legislative delegations on behalf of the residents of the City of Asheville.