A city of Phoenix subcommittee aimed at handling the impact of President Donald Trump’s executive order on met for the first time on Friday.
The subcommittee included Phoenix Vice Mayor and district four councilwoman Laura Pastor, district five councilman Daniel Valenzuela and councilwoman Kate Gallego. The subcommittee met on Friday to discuss revision of policy concerning immigration and refugees.
Councilwoman Gallego said she hopes the city will create a workforce development program to include English as a second language training and a webpage on the city site to list community resources available to refugees and persons affected by executive orders.
“There’s been some pushback and discrimination, and we want to be sure that the people that are here feel welcome,” Gallego said.
Gallego also said she hopes these resources will include new work, housing and transportation opportunities for refugees.
The subcommittee said another area of concern is related to immigration. Section 287(g) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to deputize local government officers to enforce federal immigration law.
Phoenix Chief of Police Jeri Williams said this section has created concerns in schools in Phoenix after President Trump’s first executive orders because some children in schools are afraid of their school’s resource officers on campus.
Williams said that she does not intend to have 287(g) trained officers in her department because she doesn’t want people to fear their legal status being questioned.
“I don’t want victims and witnesses to feel afraid or scared or nervous,” Williams said. “I don’t want kids at school, I don’t want the school system, I don’t want our community to be fearful of telling us information. It is my understanding the community needs school resource officers. That doesn’t say school enforcement officer. That doesn’t say school police officer. They are to be a resource for students.”
James Garcia, a Phoenix playwright and immigration activist, told the subcommittee their recommendations about 287(g) will shape the way that immigrants see Phoenix.
“There is a critical role that the mayor and city council play with regards to delivering the message to the community and particularly the immigrants community and the undocumented immigrant community,” Garcia said. “This is a safe place to be that you are welcomed in the city of Phoenix.”
The subcommittee said they would recommend to the City Council that the police department develop policies and procedures to collect data and better report police activity related to immigration. They also recommended the city of Phoenix should not participate in the 287(g) program and that the police department should work with local school district leaders to foster trust between students and schools’ resource officers.
These recommendations will be presented to the city council on April 19.
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