NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- As the child of Polish-Jewish parents forced to leave their homes during WWII, Noam Bramson says he takes personal offense at President Donald J. Trump’s stand on refugees.
While those policies may have less “immediate and direct” relevance to New Rochelle, said its mayor in a blog post titled "We Are All Immigrants," than Trump’s executive orders on immigration enforcement, they still are “no less contemptuous of long-held, fundamental American values.”
Banning refugees from war-torn countries such as Syria is not only “mean-spirited, discriminatory and indifferent to history,” it’s “pointless,” Bramson said.
Refugee vetting processes are already “rigorous and time-consuming,” and banning refugees from certain countries, the mayor said, “will harm many of the world’s most vulnerable and traumatized families while helping absolutely no one.”
Bramson, along with City Manager Chuck Strome and Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll, signed a statement after Trump issued an executive order concerning coordination between federal immigration authorities and local police.
That is different because it relates directly to “municipal policy and practice,” Bramson said.
Trump moved to punish “sanctuary cities,” that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents by directing the withholding of federal funds.
Bramson’s, Strome’s and Carroll’s statement noted that “sanctuary city” has “no precise definition” and New Rochelle does not apply the term to itself.
However, the city is taking the stand that it welcomes, values and respects “all people of good will” regardless of their origins.
Immigrants, the statement read, “are an essential part of New Rochelle’s identity and future.”
Police in the city will continue to maintain a “respectful and mutually supportive relationship with all constituents,” the statement said.
It’s not only the right thing to do, it is necessary to public safety, which “depends on trust and the free flow of information,” their statement said.
This means, Bramson said, that police should not actively engage in immigration enforcement. They will, however, continue to work with federal authorities to apprehend “criminals who threaten our safety, regardless of their immigration status.”
Bramson said he feared that the country was “entering a darkly unsettling period in which many of the lessons we learned in elementary school and have since taken for granted suddenly seem fragile and open to question.”
“It is time to pick up our history books and revisit those lessons,” the mayor said.
Bramson concluded his blog post by urging residents to read the words of “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.
Inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, they are, he said “rightly seen for generations as a powerful tribute to the generous and hopeful spirit of America”
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”