Republican Town Chairman Mike Garrett, in a letter to City Council members, is urging the legislative body to “speak on behalf of all residents of Bridgeport, those who are American citizens and those who wish to become American citizens by demanding that Connecticut’s congressional delegation make immigration reform their priority, not by joining marches or protests and making statements of support, but through the legislative role they were elected to do.”
“We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws.”
These words are from President Bill Clinton’s State of the Union address in 1995. These words are often repeated to express how torn that reasonable Americans feel about balancing our welcoming of immigrants and the need for laws to establish guidelines.
The Bridgeport City Council is currently weighing the prospect of declaring Bridgeport a ‘sanctuary city.’ The City Council claims they want to protect Bridgeport’s most vulnerable residents, the so-called illegal immigrant. However, they are already protected by the 14th amendment to the Constitution, “… nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Therefore, Illegal immigrants are protected by the law, but they are not above the law.
The word ‘immigrant’ is being misused in this debate. Meriam-Webster defines an immigrant as “a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.” You attain permanent residence status by attaining a “green card,” which authorizes the green card holder the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely. The other path to permanent residence is to apply to become a U.S. citizen through the process of Naturalization.
The correct term, illegal alien, is defined as “a foreign person who is living in a country without having official permission to live there.” Illegal aliens/immigrants cannot avail themselves of these paths to permanent residence as they have entered the country illegally or overstayed their temporary U.S. visa.
Rather than embracing an emotional act of defiance by declaring Bridgeport a ‘sanctuary city’ and refusing to comply with immigration laws, we urge the city council to act rationally and lawfully.
Immigration reform is the ultimate lawful solution, but has been long on rhetoric and short on action. An act of defiance is not the solution.
We urge you as the legislative body of the City of Bridgeport to speak on behalf of all residents of Bridgeport, those who are American citizens and those who wish to become American citizens by demanding that Connecticut’s congressional delegation make immigration reform their priority, not by joining marches or protests and making statements of support, but through the legislative role they were elected to do.
Your statement will have added weight if you hand-deliver it to the Connecticut congressional delegation while, presumably, city council members attend the National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference in March.