In a sometimes uproarious meeting on Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council unanimously voted to balk against President Donald Trump’s recent order to penalize governments that unlawfully fail to comply with federal immigration law.
“The Council of the City of Birmingham, with Mayor William Bell, Sr., concurring, hereby resolves that the City of Birmingham is a ‘Sanctuary City’ that strives to be a community free of hostilities and aggressions and uphold the commitment to be a community free of prejudice, bigotry, and hate,” the resolution says.
The measure calls for a “Sanctuary City Task Force,” which would aim to “ensure a safe, secure, and welcoming community for everyone.”
The move is almost entirely symbolic, as Alabama law prohibits cities from refusing to comply with federal directives on immigration. During the council meeting, city lawyers made council members aware of that fact.
Mayor William Bell has instead decided to refer to Birmingham as a “welcoming city,” which follows the steps of others like Atlanta and Baltimore. During a press conference, he said that the city would establish policies that are seen as friendly to illegal immigrants.
“Every individual who resides, works, plays, or comes through the city of Birmingham will know that they are welcome,” Bell said. “They should have no fear about interacting with the municipal government in any way.”
Governor Robert Bentley responded on Wednesday, promising that the resolution wouldn’t go far.
“President Trump has already taken decisive and necessary action to enforce our nation’s immigration laws,” Governor Bentley said. “Alabama will not support sanctuary cities or institutions that harbor or shelter illegal immigrants, and are in clear violation of the laws of the nation.”
President Donald Trump’s executive order was signed on January 25th. It states that the federal government would withhold funding from states and cities that “harbor illegal immigrants.”