RICHMOND, Va. -- Mayor Levar Stoney reaffirmed his message that Richmond is a welcoming and diverse city Monday when he signed mayoral directives that, in part, ordered city leadership to "protect and promote policies of inclusion for all of its residents, regardless of their national origin, immigration or refugee status, race, color, creed, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation or sexual identity."
As part of the directives, the mayor made sure the community was aware Richmond Police would not inquire about immigration status during encounters in the community.
"America is a nation of immigrants," Mayor Stoney said. "It is what this country was built on and why so many people want to come here and make this their home."
Stoney also used the opportunity to criticize policies supported by both President Trump and some in the Virginia General Assembly.
"Actions such as those taken by the 45th president, through executive orders and actions, like those embedded in several [anti-sanctuary city] bills currently before our General Assembly, whether it's HB2000 or SB1262, do nothing to strengthen our community's security. These actions peddle fear. They are ill-informed, and I believe misguided. Some are unconstitutional and others are just plain un-American."
Mayor Stoney said he would receive weekly updates from Office of Multicultural Affairs on their interactions with Richmond's diverse communities.
Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said it was important to note that nothing had changed with the way police interact with the community despite changes in Washington D.C.
He said he did not want immigrants to be fearful of coming forward to police with information about crimes or if they are a victim of a crime.
"We've done so much to build relationships, we're not going to do anything to tear that down," Chief Durham said.
Full Text of Mayor Stoney's Mayoral Directive
I hereby direct the Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Richmond to take all necessary and appropriate measures to ensure that all departments under her supervision observe and adhere to the following policies:
1) That our City will protect and promote policies of inclusion for all of its residents, regardless of their national origin, immigration or refugee status, race, color, creed, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation or sexual identity.
2) That the Richmond Police Department will not consent to participate with the Immigration Customs Enforcement 287(g) agreements, and in the interest of public safety and protecting communities, will maintain its policy of not inquiring as to the place of birth or immigration status of individuals with whom it comes into contact.
3) That in our interactions as representatives of our City, all employees will focus on the needs and safety of our residents, not on their legal status, and will advocate for and promote their wellbeing.
Signed, this day, February 6, 2017,
LEVAR M. STONEY
Mayor, City of Richmond