In Schenectady, New York, there is a “Resistance Schenectady” movement. The group, linked with the capital region’s chapter of the Citizen Action of New York, has a goal (as listed on their Facebook page) to “stand up for justice equality, against the Trump agenda and learn more about how Federal and state actions impact all of us in NY and our local communities.”
The Resistance Schenectady group held their inaugural meeting in February at Emmanuel Friedens Church. Records on social media report that there were just over 20 people in attendance at this first meeting, however this small group of people look to impact not only the city of Schenectady, but the capital region of New York, as well as the state of New York as a whole.
This initial meeting gave attendees the opportunity to discuss issues that ring close to home for the group including, but not limited to: actions to end all forms of hate and oppression, the organization of various marches, as well as a highly stressed issue by the group with changes in immigration protocol and sanctuary city status for Schenectady.
Although without tremendous backing in the city of Schenectady, many supporters have made their voice heard in Schenectady in the time following the inaugural meeting. With a base of over 11,000 followers to reach out to on the likes of Facebook and Twitter that Citizen Action of New York holds, it was able to amass at least 20 to attend the Schenectady City council meeting on February 22.
According to the Daily Gazette, this was the third consecutive week that supporters of the cause had urged the council to consider. While supporters of the cause look to maintain the backbone that the city was raised upon with the abundance of immigration that the city saw many generations ago, opposition (including those on the city council) feel that this transition wouldn’t be a necessary one in a city that has more pressing issues than the protection of undocumented immigrants.
One resident who sees the more pressing economic issues as priorities in the city told the Gazette that “the city already has enough people who don’t pay taxes, and the school district serves many students who struggle to read and write,” and that, “harboring undocumented immigrants would only exacerbate those problems.” This resident is not alone in Schenectady, as a person who sees Schenectady’s ranking of 781 in the state of New York in per capita income as a bigger problem worth solving. The city council has stood against the cause as a whole, but, has not completely closed discussion on the topic.
The action as a whole by the Resistance Schenectady group has uprisen directly following an executive order on President Trump’s fifth day in office to change the order and rules that have affected sanctuary cities and undocumented immigrants in the past. The implications of Trump’s order remain unclear as cities across the United States are fighting in federal courts to diminish the effects of the changes.
Trump’s changes aside, the capital region chapter of Citizen Action of New York looks to Resistance Schenectady to start the push towards sanctuary city status for Schenectady. The group reconvened this past Monday on April 11, 2017 to continue to fight for its cause. Around 35 supporters of the sanctuary city movement stood on the steps of city hall, continuing to express the goals of their cause to the city and its leaders.
The group included a handful of Union students and two Union professors who were looking to have their voices heard on the issue. The lead organizer for Citizen Action of New York, Jamaica Miles, called on Union professor Daniel Mosquera who spoke to the public and stressed that the 11 million undocumented immigrants need to be acknowledged as citizens in our country. Professor Mosquera went on to say that, “Having a piece of paper does not necessarily mean you’re a good citizen.” This was a common theme for the group, as Miles, their leader, continued to stress dignity and respect for all people throughout the event.
Outside of expressing their volition for sanctuary city rights in Schenectady, the group ended up having to suppress the notions of a challenger who was fully against the will of the Citizen Action of New York’s goals in Schenectady. After the crowd was able to calm down the man challenging, the event continued, and Schenectady Police later came to ensure that the situation did not get out of hand. Schenectady would not be the first sanctuary city in the state of New York if it did become a sanctuary city.