Diversity works for Alexandria


Two Northern Virginia jurisdictions, Prince William and Loudoun counties, have passed resolutions that will limit the local services that are provided to illegal immigrants. On Tuesday night, the Alexandria City Council unanimously passed a resolution that reaffirms the citys policy of providing services to all residents.

This is not a sanctuary resolution … lets make that clear, said Councilman Ludwig Gaines. It is simply a restatement of the policy we have had in place for more than a decade.

Mayor Bill Euille agreed with Gaines assessment. This is nothing new. We are simply reaffirming our commitment to those values that Alexandrians hold dear: We value diversity and are committed to providing all appropriate services to any of our residents who need them.

We will abide by all federal and state laws, but we cannot and will not take on the responsibility for immigration policy. That is a federal responsibility, Euille said.

The resolution states, in part, all people within our city limits are accorded equal protection under the law, and that the role of local government is to provide for the health, safety and security of the entire community. … It is not the role of state or local governments to assume federal responsibilities for immigration law any more than it is the role of local government to enforce federal tax, patent or commerce regulations.

The resolution further says that the city and its agencies will neither make inquiries about nor report on the citizenship of those who seek the protection of the citys laws or the use of its services except as required by state and federal law.

Are we going to stop and ask about someones immigration status before we put out a fire at their home? Are we going to ask about the immigration status of a battered woman and her children before we allow them into our shelter? Are we going to deny a crime victim assistance until we ascertain that persons immigration status? Of course we are not, said Councilman Tim Lovain.

During the week, Council heard from a number of people who expressed concern that Alexandria was setting itself up as a safe haven for illegal immigrants because those people would move from the jurisdictions that no longer provide them with local services.

While I dont believe that this is the case, I do believe that we need to have a community dialogue about this matter, said Councilman Justin Wilson. People clearly feel strongly on both sides of the issue.

Councilman Paul Smedberg expressed a similar concern, and the consensus was to schedule a time to discuss the matter later this year.