NORWALK, Conn. — On Tuesday, April 4, 15 members of Stand Up Norwalk met with Mayor Rilling, Common Council President John Igneri, Majority Leader John Kydes, Minority Leader Michelle Maggio,Council member Eloisa MelendezCorporation Counsel Mario Coppola, and Chief Of Staff Laoise King.
Stand Up Norwalk (SUN) is an organization that was founded by Norwalk residents to defend undocumented immigrants, Muslims and others who have been threatened by the rhetoric, policies, and actions of the Trump administration and by the xenophobic and racist behavior they have emboldened.
The meeting was called to address SUN’s request to have the Common Council adopt measures that would help accomplish its goal. Before the meeting began Paul Cantor, one of SUN’s founders, passed out a document that contained quotations from the Mayor, over 60 Nobel Prize winners and others that demonstration their support for diversity and inclusion and/or their opposition to the executive order directing Immigration and Custom Agency (ICE) agents to detain and deport undocumented immigrants as well as additional orders banning Muslims from traveling to the U.S.
Then Cantor said, “I would like to begin by reading to you a message I just received from Laura Veira-Ramirez, Brien McMahon 2016 valedictorian who is now a freshman at Harvard who is on the editorial board of the Harvard Crimson.”
“Hi. My name is Laura Veira-Ramirez. I am 19 years old and currently a student at Harvard College. I grew up in Norwalk and have lived there since I was three years old. While at school, I still have family members and friends who remain in the place that I consider my hometown. My family and I are undocumented and while I may have some more protection at school, they are still very much in danger. Under the new administration, their safety is threatened more than ever.
“I am happy to hear of the efforts of Stand Up Norwalk to ensure that nothing happens to my family and the rest of the undocumented and Muslim community in Norwalk. I ask that you make this issue a priority and show your support for keeping families together and standing by Norwalk residents that have spent years giving back to our community.”
After reading that statement from Veira-Ramirez, Cantor thanked the Mayor and members of the Common Council and all those present as well as Chief of Police Thomas Kulhawik for the concern they have demonstrated for the issues SUN seeks to address. “Your actions demonstrate,” he said “that you are aware that we are living in troubled times in which undocumented immigrants and Muslims and others are being scapegoated for problems we face at home and abroad. Standing up to that Scapegoating is what Stand Up Norwalk (SUN) is about.”
And, he continued:
“That is the reason in December we sent you an open letter asking you to:
“Pass a resolution condemning scapegoating rhetoric, policies and actions and reaffirming Norwalk’s pride in and support of our diversity. Of course, members of SUN would like to participate in helping to draft that document.
“Second, we would ask you to follow up the resolution by passing, with the help of Norwalk’s corporation counsel ordinances similar to other ordinances already in place that protect undocumented immigrants from being singled out for deportation and protect the Muslim members of our community from unwanted and unnecessary surveillance.
“And third we ask you to establish a committee to monitor the concerns of parents and others in regarding the fear scapegoating has generated among members of our community, especially children in and outside of our school rooms.
“At the very least these are issues that should be placed on your agenda so we and other members of the public can address them with you in an open and transparent manner.”
After Cantor made those opening remarks it was agreed that Cantor should work with others to come up with the draft of a resolution for the Common Council to consider and that he and the Mayor would meet with the Kulhawik, to discuss whether there should be any changes in city ordinances governing the relationship between agents of ICE and local law enforcement authorities.
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