State College

Borough Council expresses support for immigrant community

Borough Council unanimously adopted an immigration enforcement resolution at its meeting Monday.

Drafted by Councilmen Evan Myers and Jesse Barlow — with input from the borough manager, assistant manager and police chief, the resolution expands upon the principles of a resolution council passed Dec. 5, which condemned Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia.

The resolution passed Monday states that Borough Council believes that immigration law enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government.

“The State College Council will not voluntarily assist in any efforts by the federal government to apprehend, detain or deport community members,” the resolution states.

The resolution also states that council is opposed to immigration policies that seek to register or track individuals based on ethnicity, religion, national origin, nationality or citizenship as a law enforcement tool.

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, director of Penn State’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights, helped to compose the resolution.

“Since the election, the fear sweeping the immigrant community has been driven by proposals by our president-elect to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — DACA — deport 2 to 3 million and create a Muslim registry, among other proposals,” she said.

Local governments across the country have responded to that fear by expressing support for immigrants through similar resolutions, Wadhia said.

“If local governments are viewed as immigration agents, their ability to engage the community is severely undermined,” she said. “When a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault is too afraid to report a crime to the police out of fear of deportation, everyone’s public safety is at risk.”

Immigrants are a part of the community, she said. Every person deserves to be treated equally and feel safe.

“I think that our immigration law is not only complex, it is occasionally wrong in the worst possible, unconstitutional ways,” Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said.

She offered historical examples such as sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps and turning away ships of Jewish people during World War II.

“Saying that we are not going to back and enforce certain clearly problematic aspects of immigration law is the only option that we have from my point of view,” Lafer said.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz