New Westminster is taking the steps needed to become a designated Sanctuary City.
Council has directed staff to develop a draft Sanctuary City policy and implementation plan. As part of the process, staff will get input from the city’s multicultural advisory committee, as well as the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Local Immigration Partnership.
According to a staff report, 34.3 per cent of the city’s population in 2016 was comprised of immigrants who had lived in Canada for less than five years.
Sanctuary cities are communities that welcome refugees and immigrants and allow people to access municipal services without fear of being deported.
“Undocumented migrants may live in fear of being detected, detained and deported by Canada Border Services Agency,” said a staff report. “Individuals may not access services out of fear that they will have to disclose their immigration status. This can lead to social isolation and vulnerability.”
In January, council approved a motion from Coun. Chinu Das to direct staff to report back on the feasibility of making New Westminster a Sanctuary City. Das said she’d like staff to provide council with updates on the Sanctuary City process before presenting a final report to council.
After researching Sanctuary City policies, successes and challenges in other cities this spring, staff will liaise with the multicultural advisory committee and WINS Local Immigration Partnerships and include their input in a draft policy and implementation plan. Further consultation will take place in the summer with city departments, including police, fire and human resources, as well as the school district, with a draft policy and implementation plan expected to be presented to council for review and consideration in the fall of 2019.