Lawrence affirms welcoming stand for all, regardless of immigration status

There has never been any doubt that Lawrence Township is a welcoming community and now the Township Council has made it official.

Council members passed a resolution at their Aug. 28 meeting that makes it clear the township welcomes all residents, regardless of racial, ethnic, religious or national background, or immigration status.

Lawrence Township has now joined a growing number of communities that have passed similar resolutions. Hopewell Borough and Hopewell Township, among other towns, have taken a similar stance and clarified that the town welcomes everyone.

The council’s resolution, entitled “A Resolution Expressing the Commitment of Lawrence Township to Equal, Respectful and Dignified Treatment of All People, Regardless of Their Legal Status in the United States and to Remain a Welcoming Community,” grew out of concerns about immigration policy enforcement by the Trump Administration.

The resolution states that Lawrence Township “wishes to affirm its commitment to being fair and welcoming to all persons within this community,” and that township officials “will continue to strive to treat all persons in a polite and respectful manner in the performance of their township-related duties.”

It also states township officials will treat everyone the same, regardless of immigration status. They will not consider an individual’s legal status in the United States.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, the Rev. Jeffrey Vamos of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville commended the council for adopting the resolution.

Vamos said the resolution is “a compassionate response to the broken immigration system.” Much work went into drafting the resolution, he said, adding it is an attempt to respond to the immigration system crisis.

Undocumented immigrants are fearful of the police and the Trump Administration’s crackdown has pushed them further into the background, he said. They are hesitant to call the police, he said, and it becomes a public safety issue.

Bill Bowers, who has lived in Lawrence for 35 years, also applauded the council for adopting the resolution. It will provide township employees with guidelines, he said.

Bowers, who lives on Colonial Lake Drive, said his neighborhood has always been a welcoming one. Over the years, there have been families from Africa, eastern Europe and central Europe, he said.

Residents need the assurance that Lawrence is a safe place to live, regardless of immigration status, Bowers said. Even those who hold a Green Card, which grants permanent residency to an immigrant, are nervous, he said.