Wednesday, January 11, 2017



Kingston adopts “sanctuary city” resolution

KINGSTON – In the wake of the divisive state of the country following the 2016 presidential election, especially surrounding that of immigration policy, the Kingston Common Council Tuesday night passed a memorializing resolution designating the municipality as a Sanctuary City.

The vote came after lengthy public comment at City Hall.

Standing room only for the Sanctuary City debate

The resolution carries no legal weight.  It does not state that the city will provide asylum to foreign refuges; it does not encourage illegal immigrants to emigrate to Kingston; it does not provide, or designate, any special funding; however, it does provide a symbolic message towards those who are already in the community, or not, that they are welcome in Kingston. Specifically, it discourages emergency responders - police, EMT, fire, rescue, from taking into account a reporting individual’s immigration status when providing service.

Oppositional concerns regarding an influx of illegal immigration to the city, as well as the potential loss of federal funding for the city in the presence of an incoming federal administration set on cracking down on such immigration, are torn between interpretations of the constitution and different types of federalist interpretation.

Local Resident Robert Engel expressed his concern.

Strong feelings on both sides of the issue

“In light of all the people I know who have gone through a legal immigration process; this idea is really a slap in the face for all those people,” Engel said. “They went through a process that was extremely difficult. They paid a very high price to do it. They made very serious sacrifices and they followed the law and if we allow other people to circumnavigate that path, it’s not fair to them.”

Although it has been claimed by the city that this has already been a common practice, First Ward Alderwoman Lynn Eckhart said the resolution sends a message, especially to those who are working, paying taxes and participating in the current immigration process, but are not yet designated as citizens, as well as other entities.

“It’s going to send a powerful statement to all the other boards and commissions, including the police commission that make decisions about really specific policies in Kingston,” said Eckhart. “It’s going to animate and drive some of those decisions; so, values always operate in the background and it’s always useful, and helpful, to give a restatement of those values and I think we did in this instance; and also, responding to people who are scared really and reassuring them that we are a community. So, I think it’s enormously important.”


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