- May 3rd, 2017 -
For more than twenty-five years I have lived and worked internationally… while living in Europe when I was younger I remember being pulled over and asked to prove who I was simply because I had a beard, tan, & afro, and was driving around with Sudanese refugees on a basketball team with me, without cause or due process, I don’t want the U.S. to be like that for me, my family, or anyone.
I could speak as the CEO of IPM–an international non-profit with its Executive Office here in Mount Desert—telling you how the deputation of our local police could lead to uncomfortable situations with our International Executive Board members, Staff, and Partners who visit here often.
I could speak as a University Professor who invites my international students to visit our home in Somesville and worries about what they might encounter on their way on or off this Island we call home.
I could speak as the Pastor of a Congregation based in Northeast Harbor & Seal Harbor, Seaside UCC, which was a Sanctuary Congregation in the 1980’s and will likely take that stance again as an appropriate living-out of the biblical mandate “for I was a Stranger and you welcomed me.”
But I want to speak as a citizen, the spouse of a gainfully employed and community-involved green card holder who many of you know and who gets pulled over all the time off this Island for driving while black, the father of multi-racial children, and the great-grandson of immigrants who were once called WHOPS—without papers!
So I’d ask you to turn to page 79. You see that child in the bottom middle who I imagine you couldn’t tell (unless you knew him) if he was Sudanese, Syrian, or Salvadoran? That’s my son.
“I don’t want our local police to be put in the position of having to determine if my son is ‘legal’ when he goes to school, walks down the street, or simply sits at home: That’s not their role nor is it the country I love.”
This was my response at the Mt. Desert Island Town meeting after which the town voted 101 to 59 in favor of a resolution that declares the town a sanctuary community.
The Maine Municipal Association says this is the first resolution of its kind in Maine.Sanctuary communities welcome everyone regardless of nationality.The idea came about through a citizen’s petition from a group of local residents.It’s in response to the Trump administration’s recent immigration policies.
Joseph F. Cistone
May 3, 2017