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FAIRBANKS (AP) — Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly says he will not support making the city a sanctuary for immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission.
“After researching the definition and implications of sanctuary cities, the mayor does not plan on supporting a resolution to designate Fairbanks as such,” according to a Tuesday statement from Matherly’s office,
The mayor had said he would do some research on the matter after several residents urged the City Council at a Monday meeting to give the city sanctuary status, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
City spokeswoman Teal Soden said Matherly’s office received several calls Tuesday from people opposed to the idea.
According to the statement, members of the public would have a chance to comment on a council proposal in favor of Fairbanks becoming a sanctuary city before it gets put up for a vote.
Several council members voiced support for such a proposal on Monday, but Councilman David Pruhs was not one of them.
“I am totally opposed to the concept of Fairbanks being a sanctuary city,” Pruhs said. “One, it’s illegal. Two, it is a slap in the face to the immigration system we have. And, three, it has nothing to do with refugees.”
Many of the residents who spoke in favor of declaring Fairbanks a sanctuary city during the meeting had expressed opposition to President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which temporarily suspends the country’s refugee program and immigration from seven countries with terrorism concerns.
Trump has threatened to withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“If a person commits a crime and in the course of the investigation it is discovered that they are in the country illegally, it is within the power of the Fairbanks Police Department to contact federal authorities,” according to the mayor’s statement. “The mayor does not wish to inhibit law enforcement’s ability to handle any criminal matters in accordance with state and federal laws. That being said, FPD does not routinely investigate the residential status of those in our community, including victims of crimes.”