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.