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Mayor Randall Woodfin pledges Birmingham will be ‘more broad’ than a sanctuary city

In an interview with NPR’s “Code Switch” last week, Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said that becoming a sanctuary city would not be going far enough and instead declared Birmingham a “welcoming city.”

Yellowhammer News asked Woodfin’s communications office about the city’s status as a sanctuary city and “policy regarding cooperating with federal law enforcement officials, especially when it comes to enforcing federal immigration law,” but is still waiting for a response.

The city council unanimously approved a resolution designating Birmingham a sanctuary city in January 2017, however, nothing binding has ever been put in place.

Now, Woodfin made it clear that the city will go beyond the bounds of what it means to be a sanctuary city, per Alabama Today.

“We’re not going to use our police to do anything around what I call rounding up people,” Woodfin told NPR.

He continued, “We just don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in that as mayor. I’ve had a clear, direct conversation with my police chief. I’ve had a clear and direct conversation with my chief of our city jail. We’re not in that business.”

Woodfin then said Birmingham police would never ask for someone’s immigration status.

The mayor also explained that he is past the decision-making part of the process and that Birmingham is a “welcoming city.”

“I believe in welcoming cities,” Woodfin outlined. “That is something that we are past exploring. That is something we’re going to actually do.”

Woodfin said that he considered declaring Birmingham a sanctuary city, but decided to go even further after researching the issue.

“They put a paper in my hand and said, sign it,” he said, talking about the sanctuary city paperwork. “That’s not how I necessarily govern. I read it. I turned it over to my legal department.”

“But I also turned over to my legal department welcoming cities. And when we look at both of those, I think not only protecting our immigrant community but making sure we do things beyond ICE is important,” Woodfin advised.

He spoke about the difference between “sanctuary” and “welcoming” cities.

“I think sanctuary city is narrowly tailored and isolated towards don’t have your police enforce certain things of rounding up and hurting people, which I agree with. We’re not going to do that.”

Woodfin continued, “But welcoming cities is more broad about, how do we help our immigrant community? And as I go to Birmingham city schools, I can tell you our immigrant community continues to grow. So it’s – for me it has a broader positive impact, whereas sanctuary [cities] don’t do this. Welcoming is … what we’re going to do.”

When pressed, Woodfin confirmed Birmingham will not cooperate with ICE.

An illegal alien attempted to kidnap multiple Alabamians last week, and Jasper law enforcement needed ICE’s assistance to properly identify the suspect.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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