Should Red Bank Declare Itself A ‘Sanctuary Town’?

February 8, 2017

By David J Pascale, Chair | Red Bank HRAC

In light of the recent announcements by the President’s administration to “Build a Wall,” impose a “Travel Ban” and what seems to be growing apprehension among residents from all backgrounds in Red Bank, the Red Bank Human Relations Advisory Committee and Members of Council have received numerous requests to provide a response to these concerns especially as it pertains to the undocumented residents of Red Bank.

During the past year, the HRAC committee has reached out and worked with many organizations in town that support all the minority communities of Red Bank. We have created both Twitter and Facebook accounts via @RedBankHRAC in which we look to share and amplify our vision of inclusivity for the many diverse and multicultural residents who live in Red Bank.

One such notable group are the “Dreamers +” of Brookdale Community College who have reached out specifically for our support and guidance.

First and foremost, the Red Bank HRAC is committed to upholding its core beliefs that are best expressed by the Red Bank Diversity Statement, set to a Resolution in 2011. This statement reads: “Diversity, when it is accepted and respected, is a tremendous strength and asset for any community. It encompasses an understanding that each individual is unique and valuable to the welfare of the community. It recognizes and celebrates the differences amongst individuals, and capitalizes on the strengths resulting from these differences. Diversity works best when a community explores these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. The Human Relations Advisory Committee of Red Bank, NJ, in an effort to set an example for inclusivity, adopts the broadest definition of diversity with the following statement: The dimensions of diversity shall include, but are not limited to the following: race, ethnicity, religious belief, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, disability, socioeconomic status, cultural orientation, physical abilities, political beliefs, age, and national origin and status.”

At this juncture in Red Bank’s history, we might consider how creating a resolution could help all those impacted by it. Many concerned residents have reached out to us in support of our more vulnerable populations and we have a commitment to listen and address these concerns. Here are just a few who wrote to us via hrac@redbanknj.org.

Elizabeth D. wrote:  “A recent study published by the Center for American Progress states: “Altogether, the data suggest that when local law enforcement focuses on keeping communities safe, rather than becoming entangled in federal immigration enforcement efforts, communities are safer and community members stay more engaged in the local economy. This in turn brings benefits to individual households, communities, counties, and the economy as a whole.”

John T. wrote: “I am a lifelong Monmouth County resident and a frequent visitor to Red Bank.  One of my favorite things about Red Bank is that it’s host to a vibrant, friendly, and diverse community that’s richly colored its food, music, and style. Red Bank is the wonderful city it is because of its culture and residents. I urge you to pass a Sanctuary Town Resolution and protect the community that makes Red Bank great!”

Laura M wrote: “As a local educator who frequently works with students from every town in Monmouth County, and as a person who frequents Red Bank businesses and contributes to its commerce, I ask you to consider passing a resolution to declare Red Bank a Sanctuary Town. The diversity of our local communities is part of the health and vitality of this county, and none of our families and students should be made to feel afraid based on any identity variable including race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, country of origin, or documentation status. In my teaching and personally, I have met people who are feeling threatened by the current political climate. Please make a declaration that supports human dignity for all.”

The Red Bank HRAC and Council members will begin a discussion on how best to approach this request from our residents and what type of Resolution would best represent Red Bank.  Please stay tuned for updates and information regarding this effort!


This opinion piece was first published in the Feb. 2-9, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times. 


 

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