A day after a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order blocking President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world, the St. Petersburg City Council made its own expression about the divisiveness in the country.
Council members Thursday unanimously approving a resolution to bring to committee a declaration that the City of St. Petersburg is inclusive and welcoming for all its residents.
The full language of resolution, proposed by Councilwoman Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, reads: A resolution declaring the City of St. Petersburg as an inclusive and welcoming city for all of its residents, regardless of immigration status, religion, country of origin, race, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or disability; declaring that the City will work with law enforcement to ensure that the City is prepared to respond to hate crimes or other requests for services from immigrant communities.
Although the resolution passed unanimously on a 6-0 vote (Karl Nurse and Jim Kennedy were absent), only Wheeler-Bowman and Steve Kornell spoke publicly about the measure.
“When Donald Trump stood up there and mocked that reporter’s disability, that was despicable and it was unforgettable,” Kornell said, who went on to say that it benefitted the President in his business life to hire undocumented people, “and when it benefitted him to demonize people, he did that,” prompting a cheer from the audience.
Kornell asked the city’s legal department if they could obtain information on how many people arrested by the SPPD were then deported.
The Council heard from a handful of citizens, all of whom strongly backed the proposal, and referred to the increased deportations of the undocumented led by President’s Trump Department of Homeland Security.
“There’s a fear every morning when I wake up that my parents may not be here in this country,” said Eckerd College student Alberto Sosa, referring to his undocumented parents and brother, both of whom live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “I’m very proud of my home city, but St. Petersburg is my home now and I want to be proud of it.”
“I am fearful that our citizens will be afraid to report crimes, that will affect everyone,” said St. Petersburg businesswoman Amy Losoya. “From a business aspect, the economic impact I think we can have if we continue to not say anything about this because of the hateful rhetoric that’s coming from the administration. If we continue to remain silent, then people may not see St Petersburg as the welcoming and progressive city that it is.”
Last month, Mayor Rick Kriseman declared in a blog post that he had “no hesitation in declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary from harmful federal immigration laws,” a comment that received some pushback from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who called it a misleading statement, since the mayor didn’t have the authority to legally declare it so.