The Cannon Beach City Council’s decision to adopt an inclusivity resolution to support the town’s immigrant and refugee community was met with a standing ovation Tuesday.
The resolution, which “embraces, celebrates and welcomes its immigrant and refugee residents and their contributions,” is not the same as becoming a sanctuary city. Cannon Beach joined the North Coast trend after Astoria and Warrenton passed similar resolutions earlier this year.
The resolution was drafted after several citizens approached Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn about wanting Cannon Beach to become an inclusivity city like Astoria did in March.
“I know there is a lot of fear growing,” Schermerhorn said in April. “We want people to know we’re not actively seeking to deport undocumented folk.”
Ann Fontaine was one of those concerned citizens, and she thanked the council personally on Tuesday for adopting the measure.
“I’m an Episcopalian reverend, and our church has been very proactive about accepting immigrants,” she said. “When it comes down to it, it’s about family. Immigrants are a part of our church family.”
Fontaine has been a religious leader on the North Coast for more than 20 years, and said the issue to her is about the core tenet of treating everyone with respect and dignity. She said she was pleased that Schermerhorn was so receptive to the idea, and thinks it is significant that this message come directly from law enforcement.
“I hope this sends a message out to the immigrant community that we care,” Fontaine said. “It’s symbolic, but symbols can speak loudly with an issue like this.”
The string of inclusivity resolutions came after President Donald Trump’s push for a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration. In January, the president also signed an executive order that would withhold federal grant money from sanctuary cities — a general term describing cities that seek to protect undocumented immigrants from federal immigration policies.
Inclusivity resolutions allow cities to support immigrants and refugees without running the risk of possibly losing federal money by not cooperating with federal immigration agents. The resolution also does not change any current policies or procedures of the Cannon Beach Police Department.
The final draft clarifies that “except as required by federal or state law, no City of Cannon Beach services or benefits shall be used to detect or apprehend persons whose only violation involves federal immigration law.”