After President Donald Trump issued a travel ban against seven predominantly Muslim countries, council members were considering the possibility of making London a sanctuary city.
On March 26th, a report from staff with the help of the Centre of Organizational Effectiveness was presented to the strategic priorities and policy committee. The topic was deferred and sent back to staff for further research.
The report recommended instead of using the term “sanctuary city” to consider using terms that Vancouver and Toronto are using such as “welcoming city” or “access without fear” instead.
Jill Tansley is the manager of strategic programs in the division of social services with the city. She says that the term “sanctuary city seems to have provoked some strong reactions from residents in London and provoked the notion that are we a sanctuary city? Or are we harbouring people that don’t deserve to be heard in London, people who have not gone through the regular processes or maybe people who are even criminals. It’s false, but that’s the notion.”
Last year the province had no irregular crossings, which means that the only non status individuals we have here are those whose status has been interrupted but went through all the correct processes when they first immigrated.
Many in that position feel that they need to stay in hiding, a fact that many who participated in the report’s study who support the notion says there needs to be changed.
Jill Tansley says “if you can put yourself in the shoes of someone without status for a moment, you’re probably aware that you’re entitled to receive provincially mandated services such as social assistance. But the fear that you might be handed over to the Canadian border services agency might prevent you from for example going to the library and getting a library card.”
The city is wanting to implement more public education on what the terms mean and to properly define who a non status individual is.
For those in that position right now, Tansley has this to say “they are welcome, they are entitled to receive certain municipal services and we will not be asking for proof of their immigration status when it’s not needed.”
For more information, click here for the full report.