Durham Stands in Solidarity with Arizona Immigrants

By Chris Liu-Beers 06-28-2010

Last week the City Council of Durham, NC voted to suspend city-funded travel to Arizona in response to the passage of SB 1070. According to one local organizer, Durham is the first city in the southeast to make such a statement.

In addition, the city's resolution urges President Obama, Congress, and the NC congressional delegation to work toward comprehensive immigration reform.

DURHAM -- City Council members voted 6-1 Monday night to suspend any city-funded travel by Durham officials to Arizona, reserving the right to approve exceptions proposed by their top aides.

The vote came in protest of recent moves by Arizona's government to crack down on illegal immigrants, and answered a request from Durham's Human Relations Commission.

The vote Monday, though, came on a compromise resolution sponsored by Mayor Bill Bell.

Bell's draft left open the possibility that council members might OK trips suggested by City Manager Tom Bonfield, City Attorney Patrick Baker or City Clerk Ann Gray. It also embraced language submitted by Councilman Eugene Brown that called on federal officials to get on with a comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration laws.

It should, members agreed, simultaneously tighten border controls, establish "a path to earned legalization, citizenship and social integration" for immigrants already here and help other countries secure the economic development they need to "reduce the flow of immigrants in the first place."

(Full story here.)

The City Council should be commended for their brave and practical stance on immigration. We need more local leaders like them who are willing to speak out both against Arizona's misguided enforcement-only approach and in favor of a just and humane comprehensive reform at the federal level.

Chris Liu-Beers is the program associate for the North Carolina Council of Churches. For more information on immigration in North Carolina, visit www.welcometheimmigrant.org. This blog post first appeared on the Faith and Immigration blog.

+Ask the U.S. Senate to pass national immigration reform this year.

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