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Should Bridgeport Be A Sanctuary City?

Protestors gather at Brooklyn Borough Hall to protest President Donald Trump's immigration order in February.
Frank Franklin II
Protestors gather at Brooklyn Borough Hall to protest President Donald Trump's immigration order in February.

The city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is in the middle of a debate about whether it should become a sanctuary city. This comes as federal courts are weighing the Trump administration’s ban on international refugees and puts the city’s Democratic mayor in a tough position as he tries to make the city welcoming, while working with the federal government.

Mayor Joe Ganim welcomed a family of Syrian refugees to Bridgeport last week. In his welcome message, he downplayed the national debate and told them he can’t speak for Washington, only Bridgeport.

“We’re a welcoming city, community, state, country. We’re happy that you’re here.”

Ganim hasn’t declared Bridgeport a sanctuary city, a designation embraced by cities across the country, including Hartford and New Haven. Local police in sanctuary cities don’t work with federal authorities to detain immigrants and refugees. Ganim has faced criticism for holding back, but he says he doesn’t like the term because it doesn’t have a clear definition.

“I don’t like the way it’s become divisive. What I do like, a clear message – this is a hospitable city. It is a city of immigrants,” Ganim said.

Trump has threatened to cut federal funding for sanctuary cities. Ganim met with Trump on some development projects for Bridgeport in the 1990s. Those projects never came through but Ganim said he wants to work with the president, not against him.

“You know, as mayor, we’re real practical. We don’t have the luxury of getting into a lot of things that don’t produce a positive result or protect our citizens.”

After seeing that a Fairfield resident rallied in Bridgeport for sanctuary status last week, Ganim staged his own protest in Fairfield, calling on the neighboring town to be a sanctuary.

Copyright 2017 WSHU

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He fell in love with sound-rich radio storytelling while working as an assistant reporter at KBIA public radio in Columbia, Missouri. Before coming back to radio, he worked in digital journalism as the editor of Newtown Patch. As a freelance reporter, his work for WSHU aired nationally on NPR. Davis is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism; he started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.

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