Editorial: Mansfield commitment to undocumented immigrants an important move

The Mansfield town council votes to make Mansfield a sanctuary city during their weekly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. The policy was passed after much support from town members, including Miles Wilkeson (pictured here). (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Last Tuesday the Town of Mansfield affirmed their support for undocumented immigrants at a town council meeting. The policy approved does not designate the town as a sanctuary city. Instead, the policy states Mansfield residents can utilize town services without having their immigrant status questioned, which is not a violation of any state or federal law. This guarantees residents will not be denied certain services, like the police or fire departments, just because of their immigration status.

The action may be symbolic, but it is certainly not meaningless. One can’t understate the difference it makes for undocumented immigrants when they are aware that the community they live in accepts and supports them. Historically, it can make a big difference for minority groups when they aren’t facing hostility from the community at large.

While the policy passed last week doesn’t break any laws, some in Mansfield want to take it a step further and declare the town a sanctuary city. The Undergraduate Student Government at UConn has voiced support for this, as have many students on campus. They believe a sanctuary city would protect undocumented residents who are simply seeking to better themselves.

However, even some who support undocumented immigrants are cautious to commit to being a sanctuary city. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull funding from sanctuary cities and some are concerned he will follow through and devastate the town. As the number of sanctuary cities nationwide is very large it would be difficult for him to enact such a policy, though at this point anything is possible with his administration.

The question going forward is how far the town is willing to go to protect undocumented immigrants. On UConn’s campus alone there about 100 undocumented students. Should they live under constant fear of deportation? They’re not bad people and it’s important that we not lose sight of that fact. They are the same as us, have the same dreams, hopes and goals. The only difference is where they were born, something they had no control over.

Those who may support a sanctuary city hypothetically but fear losing funding should reconsider. If you truly believe that a cause is right and just you should strive to fight for it despite outside forces. There have been times in our history where doing the right thing, such as helping escaped slaves, was illegal. But illegality is not always synonymous with unjustness and if you truly believe in this fight, then do not let the fear of Trump stop you.