It’s still a very white city. There’s still racism and discrimination. But there’s a light behind those clouds.
My home town is gaining a reputation as a Sanctuary City. Sanctuary Cities are municipalities that agree to shelter and support immigrants, documented or not.
It’s not formal; no one has made a declaration or introduced policy to the City Council or put up signs downtown. It’s more of a grass roots movement; a movement that starts with everyday people and then hangs on tightly.
I see the sanctuary concept most vividly in the schools. It’s common to see students of southeast Asian ancestry, Latino children, and students with African-American roots playing together on the playground. An all-white classroom is rare – the exception, not the rule. Educators don’t ask for identification or proof of citizenship from parents in order to teach children.
Immigration law, according to our Chief of Police, is a federal issue, not a priority at the local level. In order to gain trust and help all people feel safe, asking for documentation isn’t an everyday occurrence. Our mayor made the point that he hopes city staff will “…treat each person…with dignity and respect.”
It’s still a very white city. Racism and discrimination still happen too often. However, this trend gives me hope. If we can open our doors, we can begin to open minds.