Berkeley City Council passes resolution on immigration system

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At its Tuesday meeting, Berkeley City Council passed the New Border Vision a resolution that develops policy frameworks in opposition to the current immigration system.

The New Border Vision will be sent to U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Kamala Harris, D-California, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and President Donald Trump. The New Border Vision looks to serve as a “guiding framework” for elected officials to make strides in “respecting human rights,” according to Hiram Soto, spokesperson for the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which helped develop the resolution.

“We see this as pre-policy. We want to start from scratch,” Soto said, adding that he wants the resolution to be a reference for lawmakers crafting new policies. “When we talk policy, we can look back at the framework and ask ourselves, ‘Does policy A or policy B align with this framework?’ ”

Soto hopes the resolution will shift perspectives surrounding immigration policy to emphasize human rights. Despite being far from the Canadian and Mexican borders, Berkeley is considered a border region as it is within 100 miles of a maritime border.

“Residents of Berkeley deserve to live in safe and thriving communities, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” said International Human Rights Law Clinic member Vanessa Rivas-Bernardy at the City Council meeting.

The New Border Vision is not the only resolution of its kind, however.

According to Soto, the Southern Border Communities Coalition is working with other cities across the country, spanning from “Chicago to Los Angeles to Albuquerque to El Paso.”

Berkeley is the first city to pass the resolution.

Hours before the resolution was discussed by City Council, local elected officials and community leaders shared their perspectives at a press conference, which took place at the steps of Berkeley City Hall.

During the press conference, Mayor Jesse Arreguín focused on Berkeley’s “history leading the nation on immigrant rights” by citing Berkeley’s sanctuary city status, which dates back to 1971 and was reaffirmed in 1986, 2006 and 2016.

“(These times in Berkeley’s history are) reflective of our community where we look out for one another,” Arreguín said during the conference, adding that he hopes passing the resolution will encourage other cities to do the same and “start a national movement for reform.”

Robson Swift is a city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.