On Wednesday, State Senator Jesse Hamilton announced his office would serve as an official Sanctuary Senate District during the tenure of Donald Trump’s presidency, providing services related to and protecting the rights of immigrants as they face legal challenges to their immigration status.
“As leaders in a city that has welcomed immigrant communities for hundreds of years, we need to fight back and reassure our immigrant friends and neighbors that we stand together in protecting them.”
Sen. Hamilton’s announcement was a response to an executive order Trumped signed on January 27, severely restricting travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim countries, suspending all refugee admission for 120 days, and baring all Syrian refugees indefinitely. The travel ban was reversed one week later by a U.S. Federal judged, but it has created a state of widespread confusion and fear amongst those immigrants whose legal status is still pending.
That fear has since continued after a series of roundups of illegal immigrants— 680 in one week– last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Around 75 percent of those arrested are said to be criminals, some of whom had been convicted of homicide and aggravated sexual assault. Still, many innocent immigrant residents of Brooklyn wonder now live in fear, wondering about future actions Trump’s Administration will take and what it will mean for their U.S. citizenship status, moving forward.
“We have a Trump administration imposing draconian, unjust restrictions and promising more,” said Sen. Hamilton. “As leaders in a city that has welcomed immigrant communities for hundreds of years, we need to fight back and reassure our immigrant friends and neighbors that we stand together in protecting them.”
Sen. Hamilton’s office will have on-site specialists on certain days of the month to provide direct support to residents. More than 20 community based organizations will serve as partners in concert with the Immigrant Defense Coalition, for the Sanctuary Senate District, including the Vera Institute for Justice, Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition, New York Immigration Coalition, The Black Institute, Brooklyn Legal Services, Urban Justice Center’s Domestic Violence Project, Caribbean Women’s Health, CAMBA Legal Services, American Friends Services Committee, MFY Legal Services and Central American Legal Assistance.
“The tradition of ‘sanctuary’ is an ancient, Biblical concept, rooted in the notion that those most vulnerable are meant to be defended and protected. And for the Jewish community, the commandment to ‘be kind to the stranger’ is paramount to understanding our history and destiny,” said Rabbi Andy Bachman, co-founder of Water Over Rocks.
“As a rabbi and community leader, I stand with those most vulnerable members of our city and state who are here in America for shelter and peace and to make a meaningful and productive contribution to our great society.”
Muslims are not terrorists and terrorists are not Muslims. Islam is derived from the Arabic root “Salam” which means peace and total submission to the will of God,” said Ade Oluwo, president of the Nigerian American Muslim Integrated Community. “The Nigerian-American Muslim Community is proud to stand together with all of our neighbors to support making New York a sanctuary state. We are overjoyed by all the groups willing to stand up for the rights of immigrants, and we are proud of the American values of diversity and inclusion.”
Residents who have questions or issues regarding their immigration status can call the 1-800 number for assistance (1-800-213-6385). Hamilton’s office is located at 1669 Bedford Avenue, 2nd Floor & Mezzanine in Crown Heights.