By Nelson A. King
WASHINGTON, Feb 17, CMC- Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has tabled a bill in the United States House of Representatives aimed at protecting undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants.
Just days into his presidency, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order stating that he would cut off funding to cities that do not cooperate with US federal immigration officials.
Trump’s January 24 executive order targets what are known as sanctuary cities and counties, which generally do not comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested on charges unrelated to their immigration status and turn them over to the federal authorities for possible deportation, according to the New York Times.
Clarke’s “Protect Our Sanctuary Cities Act” is intended to end Trump’s executive restrictions on sanctuary cities and prohibit the expenditure of funds to enforce these provisions.
In addition, the measure would require the US Department of Homeland Security to present a report to Congress within 30 days explaining how the agency could build trust with immigrant communities.
“During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to punish New York City and other communities that want to protect immigrants and their families. His executive order on immigration, by denying counter-terrorism funds to sanctuary cities, attempts to enforce that pledge with a threat,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) after introducing the bill on Thursday
“We are a sanctuary city because all people, regardless of their immigration status, should have the ability to access critical services, such as the protection of police and firefighters and the ability to send their children to school,” she added.
Without sanctuary in New York City, undocumented immigrants are forced to live with the fear that any contact with the government – even a call to the local police precinct to report a crime – could result in deportation.
“Nobody in New York City should have to live in fear of Donald Trump. As a result, this executive order undermines the safety of our entire community. We should build bridges, not walls, between Americans. I urge my colleagues to join me in resisting Donald Trump’s cynical efforts to divide our nation.”
Immediately after Trump signed the executive order on January 24, the mayors of large and small American cities reacted with outrage.
On January 25, Trump signed an executive order “vastly expanding who is considered a priority for deportation,” the New York Times said.
This has prompted further outrage from Caribbean American legislators in New York City, who have called for a very strong stance against the new president’s immigration policy.
Last Thursday, a United States federal appeals panel unanimously rejected Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the US from seven Muslim countries, stating that the government showed that “no evidence” that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States.
Clarke had condemned Trump’s travel ban, warning that it would eventually affect the Caribbean.
Amid increased anxiety and apprehension in the Caribbean community in the United States, the head of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the department that oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, acknowledged that ICE has launched a series of targeted enforcement operations aimed at deporting Caribbean and other immigrants.
“These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens [immigrants] and gang members, aswell as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges,” said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in a statement earlier this week.