Takoma Park to Hold Community Teach-in on Its Sanctuary City Status and Commitment
On Saturday, February 4, the City of Takoma Park and several community organizations will host a public forum, Takoma Park: Sanctuary City — Then & Now. The program will explore the City’s 30-year-old Sanctuary ordinance and its amendments, and will underscore the City’s ongoing commitment to protect its immigrant residents under the letter and spirit of the law. Takoma Park is one of 300+ sanctuary jurisdictions throughout the nation.
The teach-in, sponsored by the City of Takoma Park; the Mayor Sam Abbott Living Legacy Project of Historic Takoma, CASA de Maryland, and Takoma Park Mobilization, will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Takoma Park Community Center – Sam Abbott Citizens’ Center, 7500 Maple Ave. in Takoma Park.
The program will feature a wide range of speakers, including City, county, and state officials, as well as members of immigrant legal rights and service organizations. Among the participants are: Takoma Park Councilmember Terry Seamens; Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich; Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg; City Manager Suzanne Ludlow; Maryland State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez; CASA Executive Director, Gustavo Torres; Denyse Sabagh, Esq., Partner, Duane Morris; and Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart.
In the early 1980’s, local churches began offering sanctuary to some of the thousands of refugees fleeing brutal civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala. This led to a series of supporting resolutions initiated and adopted by then Mayor Sam Abbott and the Takoma Park City Council. In 1985, the ordinance was passed making Takoma Park a “Sanctuary City”. Affirmed and amended several times, the last in 2007-08, the Takoma Park Sanctuary law (Municipal Code, Chapter 9.04) prohibits city police and other city employees from asking Takoma Park residents about their citizenship or immigration status. It also prohibits them from cooperating in the enforcement of federal immigration laws that could lead to the deportation of residents.
In his message to the City on Nov. 11, Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg said, “Our Constitution specifically prohibits a ‘National Police Force.’…We have no interest or authority in the deportation of immigrants. The mission and commitment of the Takoma Park Police Department is the safety and welfare of all our residents….”
Safeguarding and building trust are key community values. Mayor Kate Stewart warmly affirmed the City’s support for its immigrant neighbors. “We are a City that welcomes those who are the victims of terrorism and violence regardless of their national origins and that refuses to demonize Muslims. We are a City that upholds the right of ALL people to live their lives with dignity and respect.”
Attendees will have the opportunity to speak and question the panel.The event will also include Takoma Park Poet Laureate Merrill Leffler and singer Rudy Arredondo. The program is free and open to the public.
Links to Documents of Interest:
- Ordinance 1985-63 Declaring the City of Takoma Park a Sanctuary City – October 28, 1985
- Media Release – October 30, 1985 – City of Takoma Park Declared a Sanctuary City
- Memorandum Reaffirming the Legality of the City of Takoma Park’s Immigration Sanctuary Law – July 17, 2007
- Ordinance 2007-58 Reaffirming and Strengthening the City of Takoma Park’s Immigration Sanctuary Law – October 29, 2007
- Ordinance 2008-7 Technical Amendments to the Immigration Sanctuary Law – February 11, 2008