Homer fired up, ready to relieve three council members of their duty


In a week when the Trump Administration has released a list of sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with national immigration officials, a group of Homer, Alaska residents is well on its way to booting three city council members who tried to declare the town a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.

The group is halfway to its goal of 800 signatures on a petition they are circulating for a recall election.

They have until April 11 to submit the signatures to City Clerk Jo Johnson, who will then decide if they can hold a special election.

The recall relates to an effort by council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds to pass a resolution opposing the administration of President Donald Trump and creating “sanctuary city” status for Homer, Alaska.

The final draft resolution that was presented to the council removed references to the president directly and was titled: A Resolution of the City Council of Homer, Alaska, Stating That the City of Homer Adheres to the Principle of Inclusion and Herein Committing This City to Resisting Efforts to Divide This Community With Regard to Race, Religion, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Physical Capabilities, or Sexual Orientation Regardless of the Origin of Those Efforts, Including From Local, State or Federal Agencies. Aderhold/Reynolds/Lewis. It was voted down by all but Reynolds.

Other cities that have flirted with “sanctuary” status include Anchorage, where immediately following the presidential election in November, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz penned an opinion that was published in the Alaska Dispatch News. He and his wife wrote of Anchorage as a “Welcoming City,” where everyone should feel safe, secure and strong.

Welcoming cities are a notch back from sanctuary cities, “sanctuary-lite” in practice, and are part of a softened national movement toward the more militant, more lawless aspects of sanctuary cities.

Welcoming cities have plans for integrating and welcoming immigrants into their communities, and they generally adhere to the principles set forth by the nonprofit Welcoming America network. While there is no legal definition for sanctuary city, a welcoming city resists requiring local law enforcement agencies to  “do the federal government’s job of enforcing immigration laws. Many do this by preventing local officials from asking people about their immigration status. Other cities refuse to use local resources to detain immigrants. The main purpose for these types of policies is to comply with constitutional requirements and to protect public safety by maintaining positive relationships between local law enforcement and immigrant communities,” according to the group’s web site.

In Fairbanks, Mayor Matherly was asked to propose a sanctuary resolution in February by a dozen Fairbanksians, but he decided against it: “After researching the definition and implications of sanctuary cities, the mayor does not plan on supporting a resolution to designate Fairbanks as such,” he said in a statement. The calls and emails from residents were overwhelmingly against the proposal.

President Trump has threatened to withdraw federal funds from cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. This week his administration published a list of the municipalities and counties that are refusing to work with federal immigration officials. [See Table 3]

No Alaska communities are yet listed on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement document as sanctuary cities.

Homer recall petition gains ground