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Minneapolis immigrant rights activists launch ‘Sanctuary Platform,’ demand action at city council meeting

By staff |
September 21, 2017
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Press conference announcing ‘Sanctuary Platform.’
Press conference announcing ‘Sanctuary Platform.’ (Fight Back! News/staff)

Minneapolis, MN - Around 50 people gathered on the steps of City Hall Sept. 20 for a press conference to publicly launch the Minneapolis Sanctuary Platform. Afterwards, many of them marched into the city council meeting to demand “Sanctuary now” for immigrants.

In response to the Trump administration’s escalating attacks on immigrants, the Sanctuary Platform aims to deepen Minneapolis' commitment to standing with immigrant communities who are under attack. While city officials have proclaimed their support for immigrants, in reality many forms of discrimination and inequalities continue, and deportations of undocumented immigrants continue apace in Minneapolis. Additionally, city officials’ proclaimed intention to support immigrants is directly undercut by Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek, who continues to actively cooperate with ICE to deport many immigrants in Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs.

At the press conference, community leaders and union leaders explained why they are supporting the Sanctuary Platform. Speakers included Adriana Cerrillo of MIRAC, Maria Cisneros, initiator of the campaign for a Minneapolis municipal ID ten years ago; Antonia Alvarez of Asamblea de Derechos Civile;, Gloria Velazquez, speaking about the importance of U Visa approvals; Sam Gutierrez of AFSCME and Gerardo Cajamarca of SEIU about why their unions are supporting immigrant workers’ rights and supporting the platform.

In addition to the community members present, several city council members as well as candidates in the upcoming November local elections came to the press conference to listen and to show their support.

After the press conference, community members marched into City Hall chanting, “What do we want? Sanctuary! When do we want it? Now!” They made their way to the council chambers on the third floor and filled many of the seats, holding a banner and signs reading “Sanctuary now!” After ceremonial and introductory agenda points, City Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden introduced a resolution for the council to express its continued support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and to oppose President Trump’s decision to eliminate the Obama-era executive order which protects around 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation. As Glidden presented the resolution, she also thanked the immigrant rights activists for being at the meeting, at which point they began to stand up and speak about the need for action beyond more symbolic resolutions. In response, Council President Barb Johnson tried to gavel them out of order while community members continued to speak. The standoff ended when the council voted to suspend the rules to allow the protesters to speak. An impassioned speech was made about the need for the council to act urgently on the 13-point Sanctuary Platform, and the community members pledged to continue pushing for its passage.

Later in the city council meeting, the council passed the resolution supporting DACA, and Councilmember Alondra Cano also took the first formal step toward introducing an ordinance to create a Minneapolis municipal ID. A municipal ID is one of the points on the Sanctuary Platform.

The Sanctuary Platform is endorsed by MIRAC, Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, AFSCME 3800, AFSCME 2822, SEIU Local 26, Centro Campesino, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), Filipinxs for Immigrant Rights & Racial Justice in Minnesota (FIRM), Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia, Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ, Anti-War Committee, Our Revolution TC, Students for a Democratic Society at UMN, TC Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, and the Welfare Rights Committee.