Connecticut communities like Hartford and New Haven are sanctuary cities, and on Monday night, Mansfield leaders were trying to decide if it makes sense for the town to be one as well.
It was clear Monday night that no matter what they decide, they'll upset some people.
Eric Cruz Lopez is a former high school valedictorian and UConn secondary education major, but he feels many people try to define him based on a different reason.
“My immigration status is tied so deeply to everything that I do,” Cruz Lopez said.
He moved to the United States from Mexico at the age of 7, but is still an undocumented immigrant.
On Monday night, he spoke at a Mansfield meeting and asked the town council to make the town a sanctuary city.
“It's really what place is a safe place unless a city becomes a sanctuary city and a campus becomes a sanctuary campus,” Cruz Lopez said.
Town leaders are looking into the issue.
Sanctuary cities generally instruct their police departments to not cooperate with federal investigators trying to track down undocumented immigrants.
Most of the local residents who attended the meeting believe making Mansfield a sanctuary city would be a mistake.
It’s unclear what impact the move would have in Mansfield because the community is protected by Connecticut State Police.
Critics like Richard Staples said the town shouldn't wade into uncertain waters.
“We're not here to break the government laws, we're here to abide by them. We're here to back our armed services and that's the way the country works and that's the way the country should be run,” Staples said.
Others, including UConn students, believe Mansfield should make the move to protect people like Cruz Lopez.
“I'm a first generation, undocumented student of color. All these things together are difficult,” Cruz Lopez said.
The town council has formed a committee to study the issue further.
They want to look into how the state police would deal with the decision and whether the federal government could withhold funding.
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