Guest Columnist

It's time for Cedar Rapids to become a sanctuary city

Activists hold a protest against the treatment and conditions of children in immigration detention outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol station facilities in Clint, Texas, U.S., June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez
Activists hold a protest against the treatment and conditions of children in immigration detention outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol station facilities in Clint, Texas, U.S., June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez

As I write this column, there are thousands of children locked up in detention centers, overcrowded and not being provided the basic necessities to live, such as soap or toothpaste or proper blankets. I know for a fact that my relatives who continue to support these immigration policies would be outraged if they found out there was a place where even dogs were treated like this.

Times like this are a moral barometer for us all. When families are being torn apart in ICE crackdowns and children are dying of neglect in these centers, we must decide whether we would be the sort to hide Anne Frank or cooperate with the Gestapo, whether we would stand with Jesus when he was crucified, or if we would join the taunting mobs.

As a city, we can collectively decide to be a model of virtue for the rest of our state by following the example of Johnson County and becoming a sanctuary city (or county) and refuse to cooperate with ICE and the overreaching federal government through such policies. This would not only directly help immigrant communities by limiting the ability of ICE to inflict terror in our communities, it sends a message to the many immigrants, undocumented and not, that they are loved and welcome in our lovely City of Five Seasons.

To those who offer practical fears for the city’s funding, I would put forth that the Supreme Court has declared all attempts to cut funding to sanctuary cities unconstitutional, and that Johnson County continues to fight Gov. Kim Reynolds attempted restriction on the ability to declare an area a sanctuary city. I believe that we too can resist xenophobic politics in our region, knowing what a beautiful and open minded community Linn County is since moving here in 2017. The world has its eyes on every one of us as Americans.

It is time to not be restricted by a kind hearted but weak liberalism that suggests we put a coexist sticker on our cars and pray for our immigrant neighbors while we do nothing for them. It is time for every person with a heartbeat and a soul to demand legislation that protects our friends, relatives and neighbors from ICE crackdowns, from unlawful internment and from likely death. I know we can do it.

• Zane Marshall lives in Cedar Rapids and is studying to be a pastor through the Dubuque Theological Seminary.

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