Birmingham marches in support of sanctuary city ordinance

Updated: Jul. 1, 2017 at 8:58 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A march Saturday in Birmingham brought renewed attention to making the city a "Sanctuary City."

In January, the city council passed a resolution in support of making Birmingham a sanctuary city. That action was taken after President Donald Trump's executive order that placed a temporary travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

It did not create official policy or law.

Demonstrators Saturday called on the city council to officially adopt a sanctuary city ordinance.

"The election is coming soon in the city. We are asking everyone, just to be aware of this – the city is watching," said march organizer Cesar Mata. "Birmingham has a long history on the civil rights movement – so we are going to keep that."

When the resolution passed, then-governor Robert Bentley issued a statement explaining that the state would not support sanctuary cities that shelter illegal immigrants in violation of federal law.

But supporters, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, insist that such an ordinance complies with all state and federal laws.  "It will introduce needed security for a community in the shadows and will foster trust and communication with Birmingham city officials and law enforcement," SPLC Deputy Legal Director Naomi Tsu said in a statement.

Other supporters at the march find their own religious beliefs support adoption of an ordinance.

"It comes down to that conviction that I have as a Christian that really the laws of our country while they need to be adhered to, the laws that Christ taught me I need to adhere to more, and that's love thy neighbor," said Tommy Letsinger, member of Grace Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa.

While Birmingham is not a sanctuary city, it is a "welcoming city."

That policy focuses on providing immigrant friendly services for licensing and housing.

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