Mayor Bell, honorable council members, today, I am asking you to take courage. I am calling on you to make a stand.
Right now, in Birmingham, there are families who are living in fear: fear being split apart, fear of violence, fear of not being able to reenter the country if they travel, fear of arrest and harassment, fear of being forced from their homes. I am talking about the Latino and Muslim communities who, because of an unjust and unconstitutional anti-immigration policy, will suffer increased discrimination and hate crimes – crimes they will not report for fear of retaliation and deportation.
What economic impact will this policy of bigotry have on UAB, home to scientists and students from all over the world? How will Birmingham choose to enforce this new law? Will we target only the poor? Will we target people based on their skin color, or the way that they dress?
“Birmingham, the world is watching.” This city is hallowed ground in the historic fight for civil rights. It is time for Birmingham to stand tall, once again, and proclaim that the forces of bigotry and injustice can go no further. It is time for Birmingham to become a sanctuary city.
We provide sanctuary by taking bold steps: By disentangling our local criminal justice from immigration enforcement, by limiting data sharing with federal immigration authorizes, by ensuring that immigrants facing deportation receive legal representation.
Birmingham must become a sanctuary city, and thus say, loudly and boldly, that we hold sacred the values of keeping families together, of fostering community, of embracing opportunity for all.
The only economic retaliation we face, according to law, would be Federal funding associated with immigration policy. I challenge you, Mr. Mayor, Councilpersons, to reject this blood money. I challenge you to lead the way in joining over two hundred and seventy sanctuary cities and counties in this nation – to say that this beacon of hope and justice, this hallowed ground made fertile by the blood of Civil Rights martyrs, will once again shine bright.
Birmingham must become a sanctuary city.
Founder, Black Lives Matter
2017 – Year of Radical Inclusivity