North Jersey Town Says it’s Just ‘Fair & Welcoming’ to Thousands of Non-Citizens
MORRISTOWN — At a time when the federal government is threatening to cut funding for municipalities designating themselves as "sanctuary cities," the Town Council has passed a resolution in support of immigrants without using the controversial wording.
At Tuesday's meeting, the Council declared Morristown to be a "Fair and Welcoming" community.
According to a prepared statement from the township, the status means it will "promote Morristown's diversity as a source of the municipality's strength and ensure that all residents can live and pursue their livelihoods."
Mayor Timothy Dougherty said the town is "proud to serve as the home of a diverse community of people, including a multi-cultural population."
"These residents contribute to making our town an amazing place to live and work," Dougherty said. "As the mayor of Morristown, I am proud that we are able to work and move forward in designating Morristown as fair and welcoming."
About a third of the town's 18,500 residents are foreign born, according to 2015 estimates from the U.S. Census' American Community Survey. An estimated 4,000 people in the town are not citizens, although Census data does not indicate how many of them may be in the country illegally.
The resolution says the town is committed to "publicly and vigorously opposing any government registry based on religion or national orientation." The town will also ensure that all residents will be "treated fairly, without discrimination."
— Population: 18,563
— Foreign born: 6,300, or 34%
— Non-citizens: 4,007
— From Latin America: 4,613, or 25%
— Latin American non-citizens: 3,285
According to the news site Morristown Green, the move was widely accepted by the members of the public at Tuesday's meeting.
"A lot of people have worked a long time to make this happen, and I'm glad that Morristown has stood on the side of love," the Rev. Cynthia Black, of the Morris Area Interfaith Clergy Council, was quoted as saying.
The declaration comes a month after the launching of the Morristown Municipal Identification Card Program, which allows any township resident to get an official photo identification. The council said the program allows residents to open bank accounts and access health care and municipal services. The identifications can be issued regardless of immigration or citizenship status.
Earlier this year the township responded to a doctored photograph claiming to show border patrol agents arresting someone on Sussex Avenue. At the time, Dougherty said he was saddened to "see an image purposefully created to generate fear within our community."
The prior administration of Mayor Donald Cresitello had supported the "287(g)" program, which allowed local law enforcement to also serve as immigration agents. That approach changed when Dougherty succeeded Cresitello.