by the Davis Phoenix Coalition
On the evening of Thursday, October 16th, the Davis Phoenix Coalition in conjunction with the City of Davis Human Relations Commission and Davis Police Department held a conversation titled “Understanding Davis’ Sanctuary City Status: A Community Conversation with Davis Police on Building Safety in Our Immigrant Communities.” At the forum, which took place at the Marguerite Montgomery Elementary School Multipurpose Room, about 30 community members came together to discuss what it really means for Davis to be a City of Sanctuary.
The discussion began by covering its history in Davis, beginning in 1986 when the City Council passed a resolution creating sanctuary for refugees from civil wars in Central America, and then later when it was reaffirmed in 2007 with another resolution that extended the resolution to undocumented migrants. The City of Davis Human Relations Commission is hoping to get a third resolution passed by the City Council, reaffirming the other two, but also emphasizing the promotion of the status within the city through signage and publicity as well as clarifying the role of law enforcement.
Much of the conversation itself delved into the implications for the undocumented residents of Davis. The representatives of the Davis Police Department, Lieutenant Paul Doroshov, and the Assistant Chief of Police, Darren Pytel, talked about how fear of the police comes from the idea that the Davis Police Department promotes immigration law, which is indeed not the case and how the reluctance to report crime affects the whole community.
The federal government cannot tell police to enforce federal law, nor can the police save someone from federal authorities. The resolution just ensures that the police will not turn law-abiding undocumented persons over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is in contrast to other select cities in the state that have policies where the city enters an agreement with ICE and turns people over to them. The Davis Police Department wants to ensure that Davis residents, regardless of their immigration status, call them when they need help and that they know that they are entitled to full service from the department.
In the question and answer portion of the conversation is where the nuances of this city policy arose. If someone does commit a crime, then they will be taken to county court and their fingerprints are sent to the FBI, and ICE has access to these records. However, if undocumented, the individual’s status will not show up in the police report.
There was considerable concern that the resolution has been around for more than 25 years and yet residents do not know about the city’s status. Community members as well as the organizations who put on the event agreed to host further conversations in the future. For more information about the city’s status as a Sanctuary City, please contact either the Davis Police Department, City of Davis Human Relations Commission or the Davis Phoenix Coalition.