Hopewell Borough declared itself a “Sanctuary City” by resolution at this month’s Council meeting. As a Sanctuary City, a welcoming community that serves and protects its residents regardless of immigration status, Borough services will be available to all residents and the Borough will not inquire about a resident’s immigration status in providing municipal services or in the course of law enforcement, except in connection with crimes of a violent and threatening nature.
“There is no standardized definition of a Sanctuary City, nor is there a precise legal definition assigned to the name,” explained Hopewell Borough Municipal Clerk Michele Hovan. “It is unclear how many sanctuary cities currently exist, but most maps and lists show the number to be in the 300 range, comprised of states and local jurisdictions all across the United States. It is also unclear how many sanctuary cities exist in NJ or have some element of sanctuary city protocol in place.”
The resolution provides that Hopewell Borough will refuse any request from a state or federal agency that requires the identification of a resident’s immigration status, leaving that determination to federal authorities. The Borough also will refuse any requests that are an extension of any federal immigration policy enforcement actions to federal authorities and shall not enter into any agreements to carry out such federal enforcement actions, but leave such actions to federal authorities, according to the resolution.
Furthermore, the resolution states that the Borough will encourage businesses, groups, organizations and houses of worship within the Borough to review and/or amend their own policies, if desired, to “share in the spirit of inclusiveness and welcoming for the benefit of those that may need assistance and safe haven as undocumented persons or refugees.”
While the Council has already passed the resolution, many members of the Hopewell Borough community plan to attend the next Council meeting to express their support, on March 2, 2017 at 7pm at Hopewell Borough Hall.