Hyattsville votes to become ‘sanctuary city’ for immigrants

Lawmakers in Hyattsville, Maryland, voted Monday, April 17, 2017 to declare the city an official "sanctuary" jurisdiction. (Courtesy Hyattsville City Council)

WASHINGTON — Despite an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that threatens to pull federal funding from local governments that protect undocumented immigrants, lawmakers in Hyattsville, Maryland, voted Monday evening to declare the city an official “sanctuary” jurisdiction.

On a vote of 8-2, the city council approved an ordinance that directs local police officers and other officials to look the other way with regard to the immigration status of residents.

It was a final vote, coming after preliminary approval two weeks ago.

“Hyattsville is a welcoming and inclusive community,” said Hyattsville City Council member Shani Warner. “This vote will make us stronger.”

Warner noted that the issue has been controversial and politically charged.

“I’ve seen and heard threats to the City of Hyattsville and to council members individually,” she said.

The vote, which happened about 10 miles from the White House, defies an executive order signed by Trump in January warning that sanctuary jurisdictions will lose federal grants.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” the order states. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”

Under the Hyattsville ordinance, local police are not allowed to enforce federal immigration laws.

The ordinance explicitly states that Hyattsville is now a “sanctuary city,” and that “the federal government has the exclusive authority to enact laws with respect to how foreign-born persons are granted entrance into the United States and determining who among them may stay.”

City officials cannot ask someone about his immigration status or discriminate against anyone on the basis of that status.

“No official or employee may detain or arrest an individual based solely on known or suspected violations of federal civil immigration law,” the ordinance states.

It also states that city officials may not use city resources “to support federal civil immigration enforcement operations or activities.”

“Whether anyone among us has migrated or immigrated from any corners of our great planet, please know that your presence among us in Hyattsville is most welcome,” said Council member Thomas Wright.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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