For Immediate ReleasePress Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, City Manager's Office, (510) 981-7008
BERKELEY IS A CITY OF REFUGE
City services available to everyone
Berkeley, California (Wednesday, May 21, 2008) - True to Berkeley’s status as a City of Refuge, City officials and service providers are getting the word out that City services are available to all Berkeley residents, regardless of legal residency status.
“It was a year ago this month, prompted by ICE raids in the Bay Area and in Berkeley, that the City Council passed the resolution to Reaffirm the City of Refuge prohibiting city departments from using city resources to assist or cooperate with any Department of Homeland Security investigation, detention or arrest procedures,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. “These raids create havoc and fear in our community. We call on ICE to discontinue the raids on innocent families.”
The City Council first declared itself to be a City of Refuge in 1971. It reaffirmed that stance in 1986 and again on May 22, 2007. Although federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, often notify local police departments of their actions, the Berkeley Police Department does not assist them in their raids and will generally only get involved if the safety of the community is at stake. The resolution states:
“No department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City of Berkeley shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of Federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information status of individuals in the city of Berkeley unless such assistance is required by federal or state statute, regulation or court decision.”
In addition the Council sought to reassure all members of the public that all City services are available for all Berkeley residents, regardless of documented or undocumented status.
“The stress and panic that is provoked by these and previous raids in Latino neighborhoods in and around Berkeley constitute a major public health and mental health issue for the Latino community,” said the City’s public health officer, Dr. Linda Rudolph, M.D. “This is a time to reach out, reassure and highlight that our programs and services are open to everyone regardless of their legal status.”
Some of the Public Health services that are available to everyone include: the Public Health Clinic, Berkeley High School Health Center, El Centro, and Child Health and Disability and Prevention Program. Spanish-speaking staff members are available to help answer questions at (510) 981-5300. Mental Health Services and the Mental Health Clinic sites are also staffed with bilingual staff and can be reached at (510) 981-5290.