Yesterday, President Trump issued executive orders related to immigration, one of which concerns coordination between federal immigration authorities and local police departments and is, therefore, directly relevant to municipal policy and practice.

In response, I issued the following statement jointly with City Manager Chuck Strome and Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll:

The term “sanctuary city” has no precise definition, and we do not use it in New Rochelle, but we do make absolutely clear that all people of good will are welcomed, valued, and respected in our community, regardless of their origins, and that immigrants are an essential part of New Rochelle’s identity and future.

For our Police Department, maintaining a respectful and mutually supportive relationship with all constituencies in New Rochelle is not just the right thing to do, it is also necessary to the promotion of public safety, which depends on trust and the free flow of information. That is why local police departments are not and should not engage in immigration enforcement – and our practices in New Rochelle reflect and support this principle.

Of course, the New Rochelle Police Department will continue coordinating with federal authorities to apprehend and bring to justice criminals who threaten our safety, regardless of their immigration status.

These further comments are mine alone . . .

Compared to his order on immigration enforcement, the President’s executive action concerning refugees may be of less immediate and direct relevance to New Rochelle, but is no less contemptuous of long-held, fundamental American values.

Mean-spirited, discriminatory, indifferent to history – and pointless, given that refugee vetting procedures are already rigorous and time-consuming – the President’s announcement will harm many of the world’s most vulnerable and traumatized families, while helping absolutely no one.

(Full disclosure: As the child of Polish-Jewish refugees who were expelled from their homes during the Second World War, I have strong personal feelings about this topic.)

Our country is entering a darkly unsettling period in which many of the lessons we learned in elementary school and have since taken for granted suddenly seem fragile and open to question. It is time to pick up our history books and revisit those lessons.

Here’s one possible way to begin — the words of “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and rightly seen for generations as a powerful tribute to the generous and hopeful spirit of America:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land; 

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she 

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, 

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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