NJ mayor declares borough immigrant sanctuary

February 07,2017

From NJ.com

PROSPECT PARK -- Syrian-born Mayor Mohamed T Khairullah signed an executive order Friday declaring the borough a sanctuary for immigrants.

The order signed Friday allows equal protection treatment for all borough residents, regardless of immigration status. The move comes one week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria, from entering into the U.S.

"It is important to me as a person who came to the U.S as an immigrant, that we uphold our laws and values," Khairullah said Saturday. "The U.S is the land of opportunity and dreams for many people all over the world."

"No department, committee, agency, commission, officer or employee of the Borough of Prospect Park shall use any Borough funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of Federal Immigration Law," the order reads.

Trump has signaled that he plans to take away federal funds from municipalities that declare themselves as immigrant sanctuaries but Khairullah said he that wasn't a factor in Prospect Park.

"We are in a unique position that we don't rely on federal funding," Khairullah said. "Even if we were in that position, we would try to figure something out."

More than 200 people gathered in the heart of Paterson's Middle Eastern district Wednesday night to show solidarity to Muslims and immigrants.

Khairullah joins the ranks of other New Jersey mayors, such as Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who have vowed to continue to protect immigrants.

Prospect Park's order recalls the borough's history, founded by Dutch immigrants, and the continued diversity of its population. About a third of borough residents are foreign-born, according to Census data.

Khairullah was born in Syria and fled the country as a child. He later arrived in the United States in 1991. His political career started in 2001 when he was elected as a councilman in the borough. He has now served as the mayor for 11 years.

Khairullah has long been an advocate for his native country and its embattled residents. This past September, he disclosed that he had lost two relatives in the ongoing civil war.

Khairullah, who has criticized Trump for his anti-immigrant stance, has also called out Gov. Chris Christie for his similar stance on Syrian refugees.

On Thursday, hundreds gathered in nearby Paterson to protests Trump's travel ban.


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