LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Jersey City Mayor Talks About Immigration Order, Being a ‘Sanctuary City’

At airports around the nation, including Newark Liberty and at a federal detention center in Elizabeth, Americans staged spontaneous protests against Trump’s immigration order. Another is about to begin in Jersey City. That’s where NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz is standing by.

Cruz: We are at the downtown Newark Avenue pedestrian plaza, a gathering place for residents of this city when demonstrations are held. We are joined by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. Mayor, thanks for taking the time. What are you hearing? You’ve been talking to your community, largely of immigrants. What are you hearing? Is it fear, is it anger?

Fulop: It’s a little bit mixed. Our history as a city is an immigrant city, gateway to America, home of Ellis Island. You know, over the last year, we’ve taken about 100 Syrian refugee families here, seamlessly integrated into the community. People just want a chance at life. The alternative obviously is death where they were coming from.

Cruz: What are you hearing? Is it fear, is it resistance?

Fulop: It’s a little bit of both. I think you have people in the community who are fearful of what this will do to their families and then you have a base here that resists at all costs because it’s not consistent with our values. And we’re with that.

Cruz: The administration is downplaying this, saying that over the 300,000 people who traveled into the country, only 109 people were detained and they’ve all been released. They’re saying that the Democrats on the left are blowing this out of proportion.

Fulop: I don’t think so. I think that it’s a slippery slope once you start down this road. Look, I come from a family of Holocaust survivors that immigrated here for the beliefs in this country. I enlisted in the Marine Corps for the same thing. I think what President Trump is pushing here goes right at the heart of what this country stands for and so whether it’s one person or 100 people or 100,000 people, there’s a big problem with it.

Cruz: You are a sanctuary city, perhaps not officially declared a sanctuary city, but tell folks at home what exactly that means to Jersey City residents.

Fulop: So, let me clarify. We are officially a sanctuary city and we’re going to be codifying that as well and make sure that our policies are reflected in our city ordinances. But basically whether it’s our health and human services or recreation or police department, we’re not going to be using our city resources to pursue immigration issues. That’s not really where we see our role. And it’s not consistent with our values of people who are here. And, you know, there are a lot of ways to deal with immigration issues. This is not one of them. And we’re going to be vocal.

Cruz: This executive order threatens federal funding for your municipality. What would that mean to your city?

Fulop: Look, every dollar counts, but you know that old expression, a good stand is better than a bad run. And so we believe that this is the right issue to stand on and say that we’re not going to be bullied. And that’s where we are.

Cruz: You were with other senators, New Jersey senators and other mayors and others this afternoon in Newark to have a kind of strategy session about this. What have you come away with from that?

Fulop: So it was productive. It was Sen. [Cory] Booker, Sen. [Bob] Menendez, myself, Ras Baraka and then a bunch of advocates from around the state of New Jersey. Maybe the most productive roundtable conversation I’ve had in this type of format in years. We talked about the ordinances that we’re going to put forward. We talked about being conveners in our capacity to get other stakeholders together. And we talked about, you know, the voice of the people really having an opportunity to make a difference and making sure that places like this have turnout so your elected officials recognize that there will be repercussions for them. And we’re going to do all of the above.