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London, Ontario Votes to Become a ‘Sanctuary City’ Amid Trump Refugee Crackdown

Toronto and Hamilton are the only other major cities in the province to adopt the policy.

Municipal politicians in London, Ontario, unanimously voted for a motion to convert to a sanctuary city (a municipality that protects undocumented immigrants) Monday, following the social and political chaos caused by President Donald Trump's ban on refugees and travel to/from Muslim-majority countries.

According to the National Post, the proposal gained near-full support from city council before being transferred through to the final process—approval by city staff. The meeting, which took place less than day after the terrorist attack in Quebec that left six mosque-goers dead and a handful of others injured, drew heartfelt support from Coun. Mo Salih, who is Muslim. (author's note: Salih was not able to vote on this measure, but expressed support from outside.)

"I want to thank London. As a Muslim. As a Londoner," Salih said. "I love you, London."

The motion—which gives access those without documentation access to municipal services, but not to education or healthcare—was pushed through by Coun. Tanya Park, who described city services as "basic human rights." Toronto and Hamilton are the only other cities in Ontario to offer the same type of service.

"With this motion, it's my intention that the City of London officially (become) a sanctuary city where people can access municipal services without fear," she said. "It's so important that we stand against discrimination, exclusion and hate, and that we welcome individuals . . . from Syria, Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia."

Only a few members of council, such as Coun. Phil Squire, criticized the motion. (author's note: Squire said he didn't oppose sanctuary cities, but had "concern" about allowing undocumented immigrants to access city services, which is literally what  sanctuary cities do). On the other hand, Mayor Matt Brown put his full support behind the move, arguing that Islamophobia and xenophobia are not acceptable in London.

"There is no room for Islamophobia, for racism, for hate of any kind in our community or in our world."

Based on what we know about London's relationship with race and identity (for context, read this, this, and/or this), this seems like a step in the right direction.

Follow Jake Kivanc on Twitter.

Lead image via Wikimedia.