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Northeast Cities React To Trump Suggestion He's Moving Sanctuary Plan Forward

Donald Trump campaigns in Plattsburgh April 2016
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Donald Trump campaigns in Plattsburgh April 2016

President Donald Trump says his administration is moving forward with a threat to send undocumented migrants to sanctuary cities — a plan that was rejected by the White House press office before being confirmed by the president himself. What could the idea mean for cities in the Northeast?

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday the idea is just one option under consideration.

Albany appears on the Center for Immigration Studies map of sanctuary cities. City Hall said Mayor Kathy Sheehan wouldn’t respond to the president’s Twitter feed, but 10th ward Common Councilor Owusu Anane says Albany has always been a welcoming city for immigrants.  "Contrary to the rhetoric being espoused on Fox News, the vast majority of immigrants are just seeking a better life for themselves and their families. In addition they strengthen our communities. If President Trump wants to bring hardworking immigrants seeking greater opportunities to our city,  who are willing to contribute to and help grow our local economy then we welcome them to the our city."

Sarah Rogerson is an Albany Law School professor who directs the Immigration Law Clinic. She said on WAMC's Roundtable she believes asylum seekers would find Albany a welcoming place.   "This is actually for the first time in a really long time for me kind of a 'feel good story.' This morning I tweeted 'bring 'em to Albany.' Let's welcome these folks and not have them locked up detention."

Burlington, Vermont is also on the sanctuary list.  Mayor Miro Weinberger says he's paying close attention to what's coming out of the White House.  "Here in Burlington, Vermont we do not buy into, do not support his very dark vision of immigrants that are attempting to come into this country and seek asylum, fleeing very difficult situations in their home country. Burlington has long experience with people relocating to Burlington from around the world."

Observers note the president's plan could end up doing migrants a favor by placing them in locations that make it easier to put down roots and stay in the country.

Svante Myrick is mayor of the sanctuary city of Ithaca in New York's Finger Lakes region.   "Like many things this president does, he's not serious. And most folks don't take him seriously. I also think its odd that he thinks he's calling a bluff of some sort. When we say that our city has been made stronger, healthier and has better economy because of the refugees and immigrants that have settled here over the last hundred years, we mean it. The Vietnamese refugees, Burmese refugees, South American refugees, Italian immigrants and Irish immigrants helped build the city of Ithaca into the economic power of upstate New York that it is. And a vibrant and interesting place to live. When the president says 'look, we're gonna resettle immigrants in sanctuary cities, cities which are, by the way, on average safer, and have better employment rates than non-sanctuary cities, I say 'well sure, yeah, of course."

Democrats in Washington say Trump advisor Stephen Miller, an immigration hardliner said to be behind the idea, should testify before Congressional committees.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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