Good morning and thank you to everyone for coming today. I am here to set the record straight and to calm the fears and anxieties of so many people in our community who feel threatened by the flurry of announcements and actions coming from Washington, DC and Sacramento.
Since I made comments to The Fresno Bee a week ago…. I’ve heard from a diverse cross-section of Fresno on all sides of this issue. I’ve listened with my head and my heart. It is our responsibility as civic leaders to reassure our children and residents that there is no need to fear our police and that we are one community.
I want to start by saying that America is a land of immigrants. We are a beacon of hope and freedom to the rest of the world. Immigrants…. both those who are documented and those who are undocumented…. work and live among us. They are an integral part of the multi-cultural fabric that is the City of Fresno. They make valuable contributions to our economy and our community.
I would also like the entire community to understand that as long as I am the Mayor of Fresno, I will support the policy of our Police Department to treat every person of Fresno equally, regardless of the race, ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic or immigration status. This is Policy 428 of the Fresno Police Department and it has been in place for over 15 years and will stay in place as long as I am the Mayor.
I would to read parts of Policy 428 to highlight significant parts of it:
First, “Members of this Department will provide, to the best of their ability, EQUAL ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAW and EQUAL SERVICE TO THE PUBLIC, regardless of alien status.”
Second, “It is the policy of the Department that officers SHALL NOT ENFORCE violations of immigration law or status.”
Third, “The fact that an individual is suspected of being undocumented shall not be the basis for contact, detention, or arrest”.
And finally, Fresno Police do not conduct immigration sweeps, detain residents suspected of being undocumented, or arrest anyone because they are not an American citizen.
Chief Dyer, who is standing with me today, will confirm that the policies of the City of Fresno are in line with every other major city in California, as well as every other major city in the United States.
The only difference between Fresno and other cities who label themselves as sanctuary cities are only words with no clear definition. I ask the people here today and throughout the community to judge me and the City of Fresno by our actions.
One more point that I believe is important to make today is that we are here today because of our immigration system is broken and in need of reform that includes a path to citizenship. I would like to remind you that I joined my council colleagues in a unanimous vote on December 10, 2015 asking Congress and the President to act with haste to pass comprehensive immigration reform. I renew that call today.
I am the Mayor for all of Fresno and I take that responsibility very seriously. Each and every decision I make is based on a careful consideration of all of the available information on what is best for the City as a whole. You may not agree me on everything, but understand that my decisions are based on what I think is best for our community.
My commitment in this reassurance goes beyond today. I am committed to working with my colleagues and my community to find solutions to these serious problems.
Before I turn the microphone to Chief Dyer and my friends on the Council, I would like to say that I appreciate the patience and understanding I have received from the community on this issue. I hope my words today indicate that I hear you and that I care about making Fresno a better and safer place for every single person who lives here. May God bless the City of Fresno and all of its citizen’s.