The Immigrant Tale of Three Cities

On Monday, the Orlando City Council adopted a pro-immigrant resolution ensuring that the immigration status of anyone interacting with the local police not be used against undocumented immigrants. Florida is a Republican-controlled state. Orlando’s promise to undocumented immigrants is in response to the fear undocumented immigrants have in today’s anti-immigrant political atmosphere.

The Orlando ordinance states that the “cooperation of the City’s immigrant communities is essential to prevent and solve crimes and maintain public order, safety, and security in the entire City.” The ordinance includes undocumented immigrants in its definition of “immigrant communities.”

The resolution adopted by Orlando provides that “no law-abiding individual will be routinely requested to provide their immigration status during any investigation by the Orlando Police Department.” The resolution continues that the resolution applies to “to crime victims, witnesses, reporters, non-criminal traffic offenders, and others who have routine contact with an Orlando Police Officer.”

Because of this ordinance, Orlando has made it the policy of the Orlando Police Department not to request the immigration status of anyone not accused of a crime. Orlando’s resolution was unanimously adopted with hundreds of public supporters and only one resident publicly opposed to the ordinance. The individual opposed to the resolution had to removed from the chambers by police. He was subsequently released by police officers outside of the city building.

Likewise, the City of Austin adopted earlier this year the Fair Treatment for All Trust Act Policy. The Austin policy, unanimously adopted by city council, restricts Austin police officers from inquiring as to the immigration status of individuals and limits the discretionary arrest power of police offices for nonviolent crimes.

Austin’s immigrant resolution was in two parts. Resolution 74 requires police to issue citations instead of arresting individuals for nonviolent class C misdemeanors, which include possession of marijuana, driving while license is not valid or city ordinance violations.

Austin’s Resolution 75 requires police to inform an individual that they have the right to deny a request for their immigration papers. This was adopted as a direct response to Senate Bill 4, adopted by the Texas Legislature last year. Like the Miranda Warning, Austin citizens have the right to decline providing their legal status to officials in Austin.

Neither Austin nor Orlando are on the border.

Meanwhile, in the border city of El Paso there have been many non-binding resolutions “in support” of immigrants and on keeping immigrant families together. Resolutions of support are nothing more than pieces of paper “supporting” an issue or advocating for one but do not carry any public policy instructions or directives for subordinate city services, including the police department. Likewise, the County of El Paso passed several resolutions supporting immigrants but nothing concrete directing subordinate offices to adopt county-wide policies in support of immigrants.

Whereas Austin and Orlando adopt resolutions directing their police departments to limit their ability to inquire about the immigration status of people they interact with, the City of El Paso passes “support for immigrants” documents without official policy directives.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the County of El Paso uses federal funds to jail undocumented immigrants to keep over 200 county jobs funded.

The border city of El Paso doesn’t care about its immigration residents while two other cities, Austin and Orlando ensures that immigrants know they are safe in their communities.

Enjoy the following cartoon, courtesy of Cagle Cartoons:

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