Government Maplewood Police and Fire

Maplewood Mayor Defiant in Face of Trump Executive Orders on Immigration

Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca is not backing down for his support of immigrants’ rights, regardless of legal status, despite an Executive Order signed by President Donald J. Trump that moves to strip federal funding from communities that had declared themselves as sanctuaries for immigrants.

The Executive Order directs the U.S. government to identify federal money that can be withheld from “sanctuary cities” — as many as 300 communities that have instituted policies protecting undocumented immigrants.

Earlier this month, the five-member Maplewood Township Committee unanimously passed a resolution proclaiming the town a “welcoming community” and codifying its commitment to equal treatment of immigrants, regardless of their status.

The document is titled “Resolution Expressing Maplewood’s Commitment to Equal, Respectful and Dignified Treatment of All People, Regardless of Their Immigration Status and to Remain a Welcoming Community.” See the full resolution here.

Despite the fact that the resolution does not include the word “sanctuary,” its language echoes that of many sanctuary community resolutions nationwide, for example, stating that Township would not expend funds or resources (including employees such as police) in enforcing Federal Immigration Laws. It is unclear if Maplewood would be targeted by the President’s Executive Order.

“Maplewood has been and will continue to be welcoming and open, embracing individuals of diverse racial, ethnic, religious and national backgrounds, and different ages and sexual orientation,” wrote DeLuca in an email to Village Green. “We will not participate in dividing people based on citizenship or immigration status nor will we profile or register people because of where they are from or what they believe. Our police will fight crime and not enforce immigration laws. If President Trump threatens our responsibility to protect constitutional rights and liberties, we will join with other municipalities in pursuing legal remedies.”

Nonetheless, even if Maplewood were in the crosshairs, many leaders of sanctuary communities say they are on “solid legal footing” in not enlisting local police to aid immigration officials in detaining and deporting immigrants. The mayors contend that the President will find that “it is not easy to strip cities and towns of federal funding, since much of it is tied to civil-rights lawsuits and federal laws.”

Township Committeewoman India Larrier noted the lack of the word “sanctuary” in the Maplewood resolution but also expressed a defiant tone: “We believe we are on firm legal footing as regards to this issue and we stand by our values. Our resolution does not label Maplewood a ‘sanctuary city,’ but rather states our foundational beliefs regarding our responsibility towards all of our residents while acknowledging that our law enforcement will work within established parameters as set forth by the Attorney General. Our values will not change in the face of threats.”

Newly minted Township Committeeman Frank McGehee agreed with DeLuca and Larrier: “I stand by our resolution to welcome all Maplewoodians including our immigrant residents,” McGehee told Village Green. “It’s core to who we are as a community.”

Village Green will continue to follow this story.

This story is part of “In the Shadow of Liberty,” a year-long look at immigration in New Jersey sponsored by the Center for Cooperative Media, Montclair State University.
This story is part of “In the Shadow of Liberty,” a year-long look at immigration in New Jersey sponsored by the Center for Cooperative Media, Montclair State University.

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