Sanctuary city discussion at Waterloo Town Hall - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sanctuary city discussion at Waterloo Town Hall

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The Waterloo Commission on Human Rights hosted a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Waterloo Public Library to discuss the idea of "sanctuary" cities, crime and immigration, and human trafficking.  

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson, Police Chief Dan Trelka and UNI Professor Lisa Munoz were among the panelists who spoke at the town hall.

Although the concept of a "sanctuary" city was discussed, neither the county nor the city is considering becoming a "sanctuary" city.

Human Rights Director Abraham Funchess says the conversation on sanctuary cities is one that is happening all across the country.

"We hope we can find some middle ground there where we can be the kind of welcoming city that we want to be," said Funchess. "Again, we want to smash misperceptions. We want to make sure we get facts out on the table."

Although the city has no plans on establishing Waterloo as a sanctuary city, Funchess wants to create dialogue on the matter.

"What we're trying to do is make sure that we fully explore the conversation together," said Funchess. "People with all kinds of diverse points of view so that we really can understand what a sanctuary city means and perhaps that might lend itself to us being better as a city that welcomes all kinds of diversity."

Sheriff Tony Thompson says less than one percent of his total inmate population is made up of illegal immigrants. 

Funchess says the idea that immigrants largely contribute to crime is a common misconception.

"If they believe that sanctuary city means we're creating a safe haven for fugitives or refugees or something like that without understanding the other complexities associated with it, then perhaps maybe they will come with misperceptions that leads to acting out in ugly ways towards our neighbor," said Funchess. 

The discussion also touched on human trafficking within the city.

"It's amazing to find that so many immigrants are involved in this pipeline associated with human trafficking," said Funchess. 

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