BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A week after Donald Trump, who became known for his divisive anti-immigration rhetoric, won the race for the White House, Baltimore’s mayor is promising that Charm City will remain a welcoming one.
At a press conference Thursday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake reaffirmed Baltimore’s status as a “Welcoming City.”READ MORE: Baltimore City Receives $2M In Funding For Minority Owned Business Development
“I’ve called you here this morning to reaffirm Baltimore as a place that welcomes all people, American born and new Americans,” said Rawlings-Blake.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake assures Baltimore’s immigrant population that its policies as a welcoming city have not changed.
“We pride ourselves on the strength of our collective neighborhoods,” she said.
“From Little Italy to Highlandtown to historic West Baltimore to the Broadway corridor in Fells Point, all of these neighborhoods add to the character and the fabric of our city and they make us who we are,” she said.
In 2012, Mayor Rawlings Blake ordered city agencies not to question anyone’s legal status. The mayor’s office of immigrant and multi-cultural affairs can’t say how many city residents are undocumented.
“What we do know is that we have multiple families that could have multiple statuses,” said Catalina Rodriguez Lima, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs.
Bishop Angel Nunez, Senior Pastor of the Bilingual Christian Church of Baltimore, tells WJZ people are always afraid.READ MORE: Woman Found Dead In East Baltimore Fire Was Shot Beforehand, Police Say
“Many people falsely believe that on any given day or any given moment they’re going to receive a knock on the door and they are going to arrested and deported,” said Nunez.
Now, the anti-immigration rhetoric surrounding the Trump presidency has heightened fears, the mayor is prompted to reassure residents that her policing policy hasn’t changed.
“I’m making it very clear that our police department, they don’t operate as agents of ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], they are not here to check anyone’s papers, and they want people to come forward if they are a victim of a crime. They don’t want them to hide in the shadows for fear of deportation,” said Rawlings-Blake.
Her message is one many fear is drowned out by post-election politics.
“You have people then reacting to that and lo and hold we got ourselves a whole set of additional problems that we don’t really need in this hour,” said Nunez.
But these are problems city agencies and community activists are preparing to address.
Some Maryland counties do have agreements with Federal agents to hold undocumented immigrants in their jails.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are about 253,000 unauthorized immigrants in Maryland statewide.MORE NEWS: Maryland State Police To Assist U.S. Capitol Police With Security Ahead of Justice For J6 Protest