Sanctuary city: Can we find the middle path that’s wide enough for all?


The following is a letter I sent to the Langley City Council and Mayor:

I am writing to add my comments to the ongoing discussion before the city council regarding the designation of Langley as a sanctuary city. I agree with the spirit of providing sanctuary to people who live in our country, who are law abiding in all regards except for documentation of their immigrant status. Our contribution to community should be measured by the totality of who we are, not the paperwork we have amassed.

Designating Langley as a sanctuary city, however, may accomplish the opposite of that goal. The ethics board has thoughtfully, and compassionately, rendered an opinion that addresses the dilemma. I agree with their approach. They recommend tabling the decision to designate Langley a sanctuary city and instead issuing an executive order or resolution that “allows the city to take a progressive position on human rights without jeopardizing the city officials, employees, consultants, volunteers, vendors and citizens” of Langley.

Because Langley’s government and law enforcement employees do not inquire about immigration status and Langley has no jail, there is no practical benefit to being a sanctuary city. And the threat encoded in the recent executive actions of this most mentally unstable administration poses the risk of becoming a target with such a designation. Retaliation would harm the very people we wish to protect as well as the citizens of Langley, many of whom may fear reprisals (as raised in the Jan. 28 edition of the South Whidbey Record).

If we truly want to provide sanctuary it takes much more than the symbolic gesture of adopting a name. We need to hold a townhall meeting and discuss how to open our homes, businesses and community gathering places to those who fear deportation. Who has a room for a meal, a night, a week or more?

If we want to provide sanctuary, we must consider the views of those who disagree with us so there is no backlash. Let us find our common values of fairness, justice, compassion, so that we might find common cause. Then, are we willing to compromise about the action to take? Can we find the middle path that is wide enough to carry us all?