Middletown is Now a Sanctuary City

“This president is wildly overstepping his bounds. This is a pathetic, amateurish move on his part and I’m not going to violate somebody’s constitutional right and put the people of Middletown in jeopardy to follow an illegal order by an illegitimate president.” – Mayor Dan Drew

Aerial of Wesleyan Universitiy campus and Connecticut River at Middletown, CTOn January 25, Donald Trump signed an executive order that targets cities popularly referred to as “sanctuary cities.” This executive order grants the power to designate “sanctuary jurisdictions” to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and states that any city or state with this designation will not be eligible for future federal grant money. Sanctuary cities often have a set of codes and ordinances that commit to non-enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Yesterday, The Middletown Press published an article responding to the new executive order in which Mayor Dan Drew declared Middletown a sanctuary city. This comes after Wesleyan’s declaration of its status as a sanctuary campus last fall. Read more for some choice quotes from Dan Drew about Cheeto-in-Chief:

According to The Middletown Press, Middletown joins Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Manchester as the latest Connecticut city to declare itself a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. They say that general counsel for the city says that it is unclear whether Middletown will lose access to any future federal grant funding. Middletown’s general counsel said that there are constitutional grounds (by the Tenth Amendment and the spending clause) to challenge the executive order. San Francisco became the first city to file a lawsuit against the order on Tuesday.

Sanctuary cities have existed in some form since the 1990s. Their policies have been the subject of xenophobic grandstanding for decades. However, last November, in the immediate aftermath of the election of Tangerine Man, a movement spread to college campuses nationwide to declare their commitment to non-enforcement of federal immigration policy. Wesleyan became one of the first in the country to adopt the label of “sanctuary campus” after over a hundred students walked out of class in support of the movement, and after several students circulated a petition (which received over 1300 signatures in just a few days) and met with the Board of Trustees.

Wesleyan made the national news circuits for its declaration. Trinity and Connecticut College also expressed support for similar policies, but shied away from adopting the specific label of “sanctuary campus.” Later in the semester, over 70 members of the Wesleyan faculty published a letter calling for more sanctuary campus measures, and also calling for efforts to establish Middletown as a sanctuary city.

Mayor Dan Drew, who is exploring a run for governor of Connecticut, said that he doesn’t intend to pursue an city ordinance from the Common Council of Middletown to institute the new designation. He also said that he doesn’t like the term “sanctuary city” because it has become a pejorative term. So, it seems like the city simply has an informal code of practice with the Middletown Police Department with respect to federal immigration policy.

Dan Drew is no fan of Donald Trump. He called the order a “pathetic, amateurish move” in the Middletown Press article. He states “We don’t just don’t take orders from the President of the United States. It won’t work that way. It’s a violation of the most basic tenets of American government…This president is wildly overstepping his bounds. This is a pathetic, amateurish move on his part and I’m not going to violate somebody’s constitutional right and put the people of Middletown in jeopardy to follow an illegal order by an illegitimate president.”

Beyond being pathetic and amateurish, this executive order is an implementation of violent, xenophobic, racist rhetoric that has been circulating for decades and was coming out of Trump since day 1 of the campaign. Resistance efforts have existed all throughout this time and can (and should) be credited for the informal policies that Wesleyan and Middletown have implemented. Now, it is up to the newer rounds of people who have embraced resistance since January 20th to turn to their more-experienced counterparts and assist in finding and implementing ways to stop Trump from drafting further inhumane orders.