Hamilton Becomes Sanctuary City
By Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor
Following Toronto’s lead, Hamilton has now become Canada’s second “sanctuary city,” a title that means undocumented newcomers can access city services without fear of deportation, including shelters, food banks, and the like. Hamilton’s city council voted in the motion unanimously. Since immigration is a federal law, the municipality has the power to decide whether or not to enforce the law with their resources, which they will no longer do. Brad Clarke made a statement saying, “the council has a duty to care.”
Federal Conservative Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, as was reported by the Sun News Network, came out firmly against Hamilton’s decision. Alexander said that people in Canada illegally should “go home”; and added that there should be no enticement for migrants to “abuse” Canada’s immigration program. Sun News also reported him saying, “We are reforming our immigration programs, to make sure that people who come here end up coming in record numbers.”
However, undocumented residents in Canada are some of the most marginalized in the country. Hamilton’s city council defended their position by stating they wanted to create a place of safety for their fellow humans. Over 100 people who wrote to the city council requested they accept the motion.
In Toronto, when the city council voted and accepted it a year previous, a full gallery gave them a standing ovation; it was received by a 37-3 vote. Critics then said undocumented residents do not deserve any government treatment. Since this is a municipal ruling, there are still many limits to what they can receive, such as everything under provincial or federal jurisdiction, like social assistance. In theory, it is only about the safety of each individual. Hamilton and Toronto join other cities across America who have had similar rulings, including Chicago and San Francisco.