In the weeks following the Trump administration’s pledge to expand deportations of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., Reno community members have put increased pressure on the City Council to make a pledge to support the immigrant communities in Reno.

Several University of Nevada, Reno, students and community members spoke to the Reno City Council last Wednesday, Mar. 8, to urge them to approve City Council member Oscar Delgado’s request for staff time to prepare a statement on the city’s commitment to become a welcoming city.

A “welcoming city” is defined as a city that supports locally-driven efforts to create a more welcoming, immigrant-friendly environment that maximizes opportunities for economic and cultural growth, according to Welcoming America, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to supporting the diverse communities in the US. In Welcoming Cities, all sectors, including government, business, non-profit and others are engaged to work together to create a community that welcomes immigrant communities.

The City Council heard over an hour of public comment from individuals who pledged their support and asked for the support of the council members to make Reno a welcoming city.

“The current executive order by President Trump is causing a lot of heartache and a lot of pain for both immigrants who are living in this city and for refugee families,” said Carina Black, Executive Director of the Northern Nevada International Center. “We believe strongly that they deserve a city that welcomes them and we hope to be working with the City of Reno on a resolution that designates the city of Reno as a welcoming city and there are many such efforts across the country, so there are many models that we could be using, so I look forward to working with you on this.”

The calls to make Reno a welcoming city have been received following the Trump administration’s pledge to target the deportation of immigrants who have been convicted of an unresolved offense, criminal or otherwise.

The Department of Homeland Security also said they would try to enlist the assistance of local law enforcement agencies to crack down on deporting undocumented immigrants.

Elvira Diaz, a Reno resident, spoke in public comment in support of making Reno a welcoming city.

She recalled a trip to Las Vegas she had taken earlier this month where she was stopped by a local police officer who asked her if she was a United States citizen. Diaz showed him her passport but said she shouldn’t have had to.

She called for the council to protect families who might not have been able to provide proof of citizenship if they were in her shoes.

She called for the council to protect families who might not have been able to provide proof of citizenship if they were in her shoes.

Carlos Perez-Campbell, a student at UNR and president of the Washoe County Young Democrats, also spoke in support of making Reno a welcoming city.

Campbell immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and did not become a citizen until his junior year at Wooster High School in Reno.

“This city has always made me feel welcomed, safe and included, this is the city that has allowed me to achieve the American Dream and what really troubles me right now is the people who have not had the same opportunities that I have had because of the status of their citizenship,” Campbell said. “I think a statement from the city of Reno would be really strong for the community right now where there is a lot of fear, constantly hearing people not knowing about what their life might look like a day from now because there are those roundups going on.”

The council unanimously passed Delgado’s request to prepare a statement on the city’s commitment to becoming a welcoming city. Following the passage, the city council will draft a statement to ensure their commitment to creating a “community where all feel welcomed, safe and included.”

“The community is asking for clarity and information and knowing that we are standing behind them and supporting them in terms of the diversity and inclusion and the uncertainty of the current administration,” Delgado said.

Earlier this month, State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, introduced a bill that would limit state and local law enforcement agencies, including UNR campus police, from performing specific actions relating to immigration enforcement. The bill has a broad base of support in the Democratically-led Nevada senate, but has also courted controversy in the days since its introduction. Critics say the bill would negatively impact public safety and needlessly put the state at odds with federal immigration authorities.

Cancela reiterated the voices at the Reno City Council meeting in a separate interview by explaining that the lack of clarity when it comes to immigration enforcement at a federal level have sparked questions and worry among immigrant communities in Nevada.

“The reality is that we have a dynamic and growing immigrant population throughout the state and they should not feel that local law enforcement is working to deport individuals and separate families,” Cancela said. “They should be able to trust that in the event of a situation where law enforcement is necessary, be it a rape, a crime, that they too can rely on local police.”

Delgado said he and Councilmember David Bobzien would be working on researching the issue and creating a statement in the next two weeks.