Following the results of the 2016 presidential election, city leaders across Madison emphasized inclusion and acceptance of diversity in the community at a press conference Wednesday morning.
During Monday night’s city council meeting, members passed a special resolution re-establishing their commitment to protecting human rights in the community as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump as president, who made deportation of undocumented immigrants and strict border control main points of his campaign.
The rhetoric follows the lead of other cities across the country that have made similar moves to reaffirm their commitment to protecting their residents from possible deportation.
“We are not going to be wavering in regards to our policies and procedures, in regards to the respect, the dignity of all people within the community,” Soglin said.
Soglin said many citizens have questions about policies that might change over the next year as a result of the administration change, so City Attorney Michael May plans to understand them in greater detail.
May said the city plans to do everything it can to maintain current policies and a lot will depend on the actions of the federal government.
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Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said the police department is dedicated to providing services that are accessible and inclusive to everyone. He said when people are feeling disenfranchised or marginalized, they might underreport crimes.
Koval said MPD is not a federal immigration authority, so they are not going to use their police authority in issues of suspected immigration.
“That’s not who we are or that’s not who we’re ever going to be,” Koval said. “That’s not part of the MPD’s DNA.”
He said while MPD works with both Homeland Security and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they are not going to be working with them on low-level issues when it comes to immigration, just significant crimes.
During his time as chief, Koval said ICE has never used MPD.
Ald. Samba Baldeh, District 17, said he is working with members of the council to host a forum, inviting all communities, the mayor and law enforcement to help engage the citizens.
Baldeh said many people have asked him questions about immigration policies including whether they can be deported despite their citizenship or what could happen if their kids were born in the country. He said there is fear in the community.
“It is all of our responsibility, journalists, the mayor, the police chief and everybody to make sure everybody is safe,” Baldeh said.
As an immigrant, Baldeh said most people coming to the country are committed to the country.
Ald. Paul Skidmore, District 9, said he has a firm belief the city needs to be strong and secure and he will work to ensure citizens stay safe.
Soglin echoed this sentiment.
“Strong and secure means being safe from bigotry and hatred,” Soglin said. “Strong and secure means knowing that your family is safe and that you have friends and neighbors who embrace you and welcome you and will help defend you. We have a strong and secure community and we are going to stay that way.”