NEW YORK: New Jersey Councilwoman Sapana Shah wants Edison Township to declare itself just short of a sanctuary city for immigrants, but in spirit would be so.
Shah said Edison should be a “fair and welcoming community,” joining a growing number of New Jersey towns that publicly demonstrated their support for immigrants and minority families.
“Edison Township has made cursory progress toward inclusion over the past few years. For New Jersey’s fifth largest municipality to simply say that we ‘embrace diversity’ does not go far enough in today’s intolerant climate,” Shah said, in a statement. “I believe our duty as elected officials is to make everyone who lives and works here feel safe and welcome.”
On Wednesday, Shah proposed a township measure that would affirm Edison’s “commitment to equal, respectful and dignified treatment of all people, regardless of their racial, ethnic, religious, and immigration status.”
Among other things, Shah’s resolution recommends: Police officers not approach anyone solely to determine their immigration status; the Police Department not initiate investigations regarding anyone’s immigration status to help enforce federal immigration laws; township funds or resources never be used to facilitate federal deportation efforts or to separate of families.
“Sadly, we live in a national climate of ethnic, cultural, religious and racial intolerance and ignorance,” Shah said. “In this climate, two Indian men in Kansas were shot. One was killed. A Sikh was told: “Go back to your own country,” and shot,” Shah recalled.
“In this climate, more than one hundred Jewish Community Centers – including here on Oak Tree Road, where I am a member – have been targets for bomb threats since January. Hate crimes against Muslims, Hispanics and African-Americans are on the rise” Shah said. “It is our duty to declare that Edison does not tolerate xenophobia”
Noting that 45 percent of Edison residents are foreign-born and 47.4 percent of Edison’s 102,000 residents are Asian or of Asian descent, Shah said “it is imperative that we reassure our residents they should not be afraid to report crimes to our police department and that they may cooperate with police without being afraid of deportation.”
In New Jersey – since December – Bloomfield, Leonia, Madison, Maplewood, Montclair, Morristown, New Brunswick, Plainfield, Princeton, Red Bank and South Orange have declared themselves as “fair and welcoming communities.” This designation stops short of saying they are “sanctuary cities,” a move President Donald Trump said could be punished by withholding federal funding.