(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 12, 2017)
UPDATE – Both Royal Oak and Ferndale approved their respective proposals at their Monday night meetings.
Royal Oak and Ferndale, MI – Officials in Royal Oak and Ferndale are expected to vote Monday evening on measures that show support for immigrants, yet they are taking different approaches.
Royal Oak Commissioners will be discussing a resolution to be a “Welcoming City,” and Ferndale City Council is considering adopting a policy that would add “immigration status” to the city’s nondiscrimination policy.
The Royal Oak resolution states:
Whereas , the City of Royal Oak believes in the innate dignity of all people; and Whereas , The City of Royal Oak acknowledges, honors, and values our immigrant and migrant roots, and embraces the values of family, faith, and hard work; and Whereas, the City of Royal Oak celebrates diversity and recognizes that invaluable contributions to our social, religious, cultural , and economic landscape have come from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds; and
Whereas , the City of Royal Oak, and the southeastern Michigan region as a whole, has long been home to immigrants from around the world, who come seeking opportunity, stability, prosperity, and a better life for their families; and
Whereas , the City of Royal Oak has long been recognized as a hospitable and welcoming place, where people, families, and institutions thrive and the contributions of all are celebrated and valued; and
Whereas , as evidenced by our publicly supported human rights ordinance, the City of Royal Oak is committed to being a diverse, inclusive, and global city; and Whereas , recent events on the national stage demand that people and communities of conscience speak out in defense of, and reaffirm their commitment to, this most basic American value; and
Whereas, the City of Royal Oak will continue to provide a neighborly and welcoming atmosphere, where all are respected and accepted; and Whereas , the Welcoming Royal Oak initiative aims to build cooperation, respect, and compassion among all in our city, including immigrants and non-immigrants alike; endeavors to create an atmosphere in which immigrants and refugees have increased opportunities to integrate into the social fabric of their adopted hometowns; and seeks to embrace diversity while supporting and retaining unique cultural identities; and
Whereas, by joining the national Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative the City of Royal Oak commits to institutionalizing welcoming efforts through the adoption of policies and/or practices that promote inclusion within local government and the broader community
Now therefore be it resolved , by the Royal Oak City Commission, on February 13, 2017, that the City of Royal Oak is affirmed as a place where all foreign-born and native-born Americans can live, work, and play together, share in each other’s customs and ideals, and appreciate and promote cultural diversity.
In Ferndale joining the “Welcoming City” movement is not on the table, but a policy about nondiscrimination is. City Manager April Lynch wrote in a memo “City Council expressed a sincere desire to ensure that our City is welcoming to all those chose to live, work and visit the City of Ferndale. Council was interested in seeing an action item rather than a resolution. In discussion, I am pleased to report that the Police Department had already updated their policy on fair and impartial policing to include immigration status in early January 2017. However, we were missing a policy to address all other city services.” Lynch noted that administrative policies are not required to go before council for a vote, but that this one is being voted on because “in this instance it is appropriate and important that our community understands the values and expectations of our employees.”
The policy introduction states “The City of Ferndale prides itself on being a welcoming, open and diverse community and that we deliver customer service and administer services without any bias or discriminatory practices with each and every encounter we have with either residents or other stakeholders.” The policy itself states “It is the Policy of the City of Ferndale not to discriminate against its residents, employees or any persons on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, age, color, height, weight, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation or any other legally protected status. Unless required by law (for instance, the I-9 employment verification process, affirmative action obligations or a need-to-know law enforcement basis), we will not inquire or make a record of the immigration or citizenship status of an employee or resident. Likewise, within the parameters of the law, and recognizing that the City has certain obligations to follow the law and cooperate with law enforcement, the City of Ferndale will not make inquiries or a record of a resident’s immigration or citizenship status, will not condition access to City services on the confirmation of such status and will not discriminate against or deny services to a resident on the basis of such status.”
Adopting the policy will not add Ferndale to the list of “Welcoming Cities,” and there is not currently a resolution to become one being considered. Neither city would be considered a “Sanctuary City,” which would require a commitment not to enforce Federal immigration laws.
West Bloomfield and Other Welcoming Communities
West Bloomfield became a Welcoming City in 2015, but in Jan. 2016 some residents wanted to see the designation removed. After a heated meeting on the subject, Township Board Members voted 3-2 to keep the designation.
According to www.welcomingamerica.org, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Clinton Township, Detroit, East Lansing, Hamtramck, Kalamazoo County, Lansing, Macomb County, Meridian, Sterling Heights, and West Bloomfield are Welcoming Cities or Counties.
The Royal Oak Commission meeting takes place Monday at 7:30PM at Royal Oak City Hall. The Ferndale City Council Meeting takes place Monday at 7PM at Ferndale City Hall.